Diary of an Advisory Committee: Switch from Maintenance to New Building Issues

On September 13, 2004, The Long Range Planning Committee of the Madison School Board reviewed a recommendation from the MMSD administration that the district spend $46M for school maintenance projects from 2005 through 2010. Because the Board dedicates approximately $3.8M per year for maintenance from the operating budget (%19M over the next five years), the administration’s cost estimates amount to recommending referendum for $27M. In 2004-2005 the district will exhaust the $20M provided by the 1999 maintenance referendum. Some projects, however, remain to be done.
Citizen advisors asked many good questions to clarify the recommendation of the administration. The Committee will not, however, act on the administration’s recommendation in the next few months.

According to a timeline developed by the MMSD administration, the Board has until January of 2005 to make its decision on a maintenance referendum. Meeting a January deadline would allow time for the Board to place the maintenance referendum on the April 5, 2005 ballot.
The same timeline will not work for a referendum to build an addition at an existing school or to build a new school. The full Board must decide to go to referendum for an addition or new school by early October in order for the district to open the new facilities to students by January of 2007. A decision made after October of 2004 will mean that the new facilities would not open until fall of 2007, at the earliest, assuming that the referendum passes.
Given these timelines, the Long Range Planning Committee will suspend discussions of maintenance in the short run and focus instead on the question whether new construction is needed.
Soon all materials that have been presented to the Long Range Planning Committee, including minutes of meetings since May of 2004, should be available on the MMSD web site at http://www.madison.k12.wi.us under “Long Range Planning”. When I checked tonight, the icon appeared on the site but was not working.