Madison Schools’ Referendum & Possible Boundary Change Commentary

Molly Beck:

Even though expanding eight schools is only part of the plan, “if there’s any one (school) that looks particularly challenging to explain,” Hughes said, “we know that will be what the opponents of the referendum will latch onto. … We are going to have to be able to work through that and decide whether each of these is separately defensible.”

Hughes added that attendance area boundary changes are tough, but the board might find out that could be a solution for one or two of the schools.

Board vice president Arlene Silveira and board member T.J. Mertz also said that the controversial idea needed to be thoroughly vetted.

“We have to have the discussion about boundaries — we have to show that we looked at it, and what that showed,” said Silveira, who also added that internal transfers at popular schools like Van Hise Elementary and Hamilton Middle School needed to also be examined as a way to relieve crowding.

Board member Mary Burke said making the proposed investment in the eight schools could ultimately save the district the cost of having to build schools, especially if the district sees enrollment gains in the future as schools improve.

Related: Might low income student distribution be addressed? and Effective school maintenance spending?