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February 8, 2006

MMSD's Enrollment & Capacity Picture: A Perspective

The Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) is facing a significant challenge - growth. As a result of that growth - which is not evenly distributed across the district's region - some schools are facing, or will soon be facing, overcrowding. Other schools still continue to see languishing enrollment which calls into question the appropriate future use of their facilities. Two task forces were created to examine these issues, and to recommend up to three options to address them. The task forces were also asked to develop options so as to reduce concentrations of low-income students. This report endeavors to examine how the enrollment picture plays out over the next five years, particularly under the various options proposed by the task forces. Special attention is given here to the West Side task force options due to this author's greater familiarity with them, and his continued maintenance of a model tracking their proposals.

This report [121K PDF] first looks at the proposed options for the West & Memorial areas, and examines how projected enrollment and capacity compare over each of the next five school years. The report will then consider population projections over the next 25 years to try to get some sense of what one may expect as regards future demand for school facilities.

Disclosure, or why am I doing this?

  • I recently moved to Madison and saw this issue as a way to get involved in the community and to understand "how things work" here.
  • This particular issue is a complex problem, and therefore a rather interesting one to look at.
  • I have two children attending MMSD schools, and therefore am especially interested in the well-being of this district, and community.
  • Once I got started, it's been hard to stop (though my work and family demands have certainly constrained my efforts).


The following preliminary conclusions can be drawn from this analysis:
Elementary SchoolsSome slight "tweaking" of the options may be warranted, particularly to address the near-term situation for Chavez.
Middle SchoolsJefferson & Toki are facing overcrowding risks in the next 5-10 years. In that light, particular attention will need to be given to the precise alignment of students attending a new school. If they are all aligned to attend only one of the middle schools, overcrowding will become an even greater risk.

Cherokee's longer-term situation appears all right, but that will definitely depend largely on the level of growth in the Fitchburg area.

Long-Term OutlookThe demographics and growth picture for Madison, and the country, suggest there will be continued increase in elementary school enrollment for some time. The projected increase in enrollment over the next five years does not appear to be a temporary phenomenon that will soon reverse itself
PDF Version for printing [121K PDF] Please contact me at if you have questions, or post comments here.

Posted by at February 8, 2006 12:07 PM
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