New Building On Leopold School Site Referendum

Overseeing the building of a new school on the Leopold site is one of the responsibilities of the Long Range Planning committee, of which I am a member. On this committee, board and citizen members have voted to ask the public via referendum to build a school on the Leopold grounds. This has been part of a long-range plan for quite some time. In 1988, I worked at Leopold Elementary School as a Parent-Community Liaison. My supervisor was the late Don Stern who was Principal at the time. Mr. Stern always told me that Leopold was the biggest elementary school in the district and the Leopold community was going to get bigger. Despite Leopold being the biggest elementary school, he had no Assistant Principal. This was never a burden for him. He loved Leopold School. But he knew that eventually another school would be built on the property. He told me this, and this was in the late 80’s!
I’m not supporting this building referendum only because of Mr. Stern. I’m supporting this because it is the right thing to do. The Leopold neighborhood has grown by leaps and bounds as will the whole Westside of Madison. The increased enrollment dictates that something must be done to alleviate the overcrowding in the school. Building on the current grounds is a fiscally efficient thing to do. Building else where in the community would add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the project. Building a smaller facility with a reduced capacity puts the community back in the same place it is now and will cause additional overcrowding at other west side schools. Not building a school on the Leopold site will increase the timetable for which another new school will have to be built on the far west side of Madison. One thing that is for certain, as these new developments are built and enrollments increase on the far west and far east sides of Madison, new schools will need to be built. The effect of this action will cause closing schools to be strongly considered on the north side and Isthmus. Future school boards will make these difficult decisions in five to ten years as growth dictates or perhaps even sooner as the financial challenges warrant.
The current school board receives many opinions regarding its lack of long range planning. In the case of Leopold, a great deal of planning has been done for the new school. The PTO, community leaders, parents, teachers and students have been heard loud and clear. This is what they want. If there are additional questions and concerns, they need to be addressed in the Long Range Planning committee. We have yet to have such concerns placed on the agenda. Anyone who has a dissenting opinion should use the Long Range Planning committee meetings as a forum to vent their concerns. Although, I am supportive of building a new building on the Leopold grounds, I want to hear from those who might question this logic or have concerns. Once these concerns are addressed, school board members can make an informed decision and be able to live with their decision and the decision of the voters on May 24th.