The Board of Education received an update at its regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 6 on the Facilities Planning Committee's meeting in October, which included preliminary costs for the six options being considered.
Later in the meeting, the Board voted unanimously to remove Option 4 (new middle school at Pope Farm site) and Option 5 (high school building at Parmenter site) from further consideration.
Superintendent George Mavroulis and Assistant Superintendent Sherri Cyra will contact City of Middleton officials to see if they still want to meet on Monday, Nov. 20 now that Option 5 is no longer on the table. If they don't want to meet, the regular Board meeting would be canceled. However, Cyra noted they may want to discuss other possible partnerships.
Co-chair Luke Francois reminded the Board that the FPC has held more than a dozen meetings, including three joint meetings with the school board. Members have also toured the District schools with the most enrollment challenges. The FPC has had presentations on school finances and how it might impact a possible referendum, along with learning more about educational design, 21st Century learning spaces and sustainability. The FPC plans to dive in deeper but still has questions, he said.
Cyra then provided an enrollment update. She noted the Third Friday official numbers was shared with the FPC in October and shared that enrollment exceeded UW-Madison Applied Population Lab's projections and at some schools is already near MD Roffers Consulting's projections for 2020-21.
The District received updated APL report on Thursday and they noted their model isn't keeping up with MCPASD's growth. Their updated projections show higher enrollment gains than previously, Cyra said. However, she is concerned that the 4K and kindergarten numbers, which are based on birth rates and that data has been flat in Dane County and the state, appear low, she said.
She said Elm Lawn isn't seeing a drop like the District expected due to a large fourth-grade class that moved to Kromrey this year. As a result, the idea of moving students from West Middleton to Elm Lawn to ease overcrowding as a short-term solution no longer appears to be a viable idea, Cyra said. She also noted West Middleton is increasing more rapidly than was projected.
She also noted Kromrey was expected to see a drop by 2020-21 but that also hasn't happened yet. In fact, she reminded the Board that every grade level was above projections with every APL model.
Cyra and Director of Business Services Lori Ames met with Mark Roffers recently to discuss projections. He believes people are purchasing homes at a higher rate in the District right now because the market is hot and prices are high. He doesn't believe the market will stay this high but isn't sure when it might slow down.
Eppstein Uhen Architect's Chris Michaud and J.H. Findorff & Son's Matt Premo then went through the six options and the preliminary costs with a presentation similar to the one they did for the FPC on Oct. 24. Michaud noted there were modifications to the options from last time based on feedback from the Board, administration, staff and FPC. He also shared a new high school option.
Sean Hyland asked a number of questions regarding square footage and noted that in most cases renovation costs were higher per student than new construction. Todd Smith wondered why capacity was limited to 550 students for a potential new middle school. Michaud noted the building was proposed to meet capacity needs plus a little more and if it was built similar to the size of Kromrey rooms would sit empty. Cyra also noted the District hasn't done an analysis on how program offerings might change with a smaller middle school but she indicated that certainly would seem likely.
There were questions about when new space would be available. Premo believes all of the options other than high school could be started by 2019 and be ready by the the start of the 2020-21 school year if a referendum passes. Any high school project would take longer due to the size.
Ames and Tammy Olszewski of Ehlers then went over the preliminary tax impact. They reviewed the assumptions being used and showed the impact to the mill rate based on borrowing of $100 million to $200 million. The Board did ask if taking on more debt would impact the District's Aaa rating. Ames and Olszewski believed the District's strong financial situation will have bigger impact.
Francois and co-chair Bob Hesselbein then reviewed the FPC's last meeting with the Board. Francois noted members reviewed their guiding principles before individually thinking about the pros and cons of each option. A facilitator then worked with small groups before each member took a seven-question survey.
Francois noted elementary needs were seen as important and urgent by all but one members of the 16 who took the survey, while middle level needs were seen as important but not quite as urgent. He noted high school needs seen as important and urgent by every member.
There wasn't consensus on on the elementary options, he said. The option with the most support was building a new elementary school, but members also want to make sure equity concerns are being met at other schools, maybe even beyond Park and West Middleton. Members were largely in favor of the Glacier Creek option at middle school and there was almost 100 percent support that Option 6 was the better of the two high school options.
Francois also noted the community workshops have been postponed to provide more time to refine options and learn more about enrollment impacts. He said they will likely be held in late January or early February.