Diary of an Advisory Committee: Long Range Planning Committee Awaits Recommendation for Referendum for New School

On October 11, the administration will recommend to the Long Range Planning Committee of the Madison School Board that the district go to referendum on April 5, 2005 seeking funds for construction of a second elementary school building on the grounds of Leopold Elementary School. The new school would house kindergarten through second grade and the current school would convert to third through fifth grade, if this plan succeeds.
The LRP will hold a public hearing on this recommendation on Monday, October 18, at 7 p.m. at Leopold School at 2602 Post Road in Madison.

Over two years ago, the Board changed boundaries at many the west-side elementary schools and constructed Chavez Elementary School in order to ease crowding in the schools. Leopold Elementary School was growing very rapidly at that time and continues to grow, as new housing developments bring new families into the area. Because the new boundaries and Chavez School did not solve overcrowding problems for Leopold, the district “outposted” Leopold’s third graders to other schools for two years. It has, however, promised not to resort to “outposting” again, because of the disruption for the families and the host schools.
On October 25, the LRP will vote on the administration’s recommendation. If it adopts the administration’s recommendation, the full Board of Education will vote on the recommendation for a referendum for construction on the same night.
Even a successful referendum on April 5, 2005 will not solve the overcrowding at Leopold in the near future. A successful April referendum would make it possible to open a second school on Leopold grounds in January, 2007 at the earliest. It is unclear how the district will relieve overcrowding in the interim.
The referendum for a new building is in addition to the $27M referendum for maintenance that the district presented to the LRP in September. The estimated cost for the new building is $11M.
For more information on this issue, go to http://www.madison.k12.wi.us/boe/longrange/. Starting September 23, the district web site posts the agendas, minutes and all materials reviewed by the LRP by the Friday before the next meeting.
Ruth Robarts,
Member, Madison Board of Education, 1997 to present