A Statement of Facts about the School Referendum
By the Monona Grove School Board
March 27, 2006
In recent weeks there has been a great deal of debate about the upcoming Monona Grove
School District referendum. The Monona Grove School Board has attempted to provide
accurate information on this matter so that residents can make an informed decision when
they vote on this matter on April 4th. There has also been significant misinformation
advanced by individuals that has led to rumors and uncertainty. The purpose of this
correspondence is to address some of these issues, so residents can make their decision
based on accurate information.
Why haven’t other options been considered?
The School Board and the Monona Grove communities have been reviewing several options for many years. This referendum has been advanced as a compromise solution to the facilities issue that has been debated for years. Although we recognize that individuals may find aspects of the proposal they dislike, it is our hope that the public
will view this matter from a “big picture” lens.
Does it represent a fair compromise to this
issue that will resolve this long debated issue?
We believe it does.
Why aren’t certain costs for the new middle school included in the estimates?
The main issue that continues to be questioned is that of the development of roads for this
project. These costs were removed from the referendum in an attempt to keep the total
costs as low as possible. We believe that the expenses for the construction of roads will
be met by a combination of working cooperatively with the elected officials from Cottage
Grove, along with the potential to sell off a portion of district-owned land to developers
to help defray the cost of road construction. The school district has already held
discussions with local government officials about these costs, and we anticipate further
talks as we progress toward the middle school's opening in the fall of 2008.
Will the final project, including the architect’s fees, be sent out to bid?
Following a successful referendum vote, the School Board will meet to establish the
bidding process. Thus far, the planning and estimates are “conceptual.” The final project
will undergo strict scrutiny, to include input from staff and residents, and then be bid out.
A recent flyer that was distributed indicated that the middle school building cost far
exceeded the median middle school costs in total costs, square feet per student, etc.
How accurate is this information?
The flyer cites figures from different regions of the country and these figures are from the
2005 construction year. For example, national schools built in the south and southwest
are designed significantly different and require less square footage. These are often
“open” schools that may not require hallways, cafeterias, and other educational space. To
compare our costs and square footage with these is inaccurate and misleading. The costs
that we have in the referendum include increased anticipated costs for inflation through
2007 when this facility will be constructed. Additionally, the costs cited in the flyer are
construction costs only and do not include other associated costs that we have included,
such as site improvements, furniture, fees, and related development costs. Simply put, the
figures that are presented are manipulated to make our projected costs seem out of line.
There also was a claim that the proposed new middle school is significantly larger
than the national average. Is this statement true?
National figures range from 57,000 square feet to 175,300 square feet. Winnequah
Middle School is approximately 94,000 square feet and is well over capacity. The new
school will house four grade levels (5th-8th) whereas Winnequah Middle School currently
houses three grade levels (6th-8th). The proposed new middle school’s concept plan shows
165,700 square feet. It is sized to meet the projected enrollments for the four grade levels
of students. Finally, it is hard to draw comparisons on “average” sizes as there are many
factors to be considered such as enrollment capacities, special purpose areas (cafeteria,
commons, library, gym, etc.), and program offerings (technology education, family and
consumer education, music, etc.). Each of these factor into how large a facility is needed.
The artist’s rendering of the new middle school makes it look larger than the
Monona Grove High School and may be extravagant. Is this true?
Monona Grove High School is 236,000 square feet; the new middle school is planned to
be 165,700 square feet, or about a third smaller than the high school. Conceptually, it has
been priced to reflect a similar quality of construction to Monona Grove High School.
Some are claiming that the new middle school will be at near capacity when it opens.
Is this true?
It is “cored” for 750 students but could easily accommodate in excess of 850 students. It
has been reported that there are only 750 lockers in the cost estimates. If needed, students
could either share lockers or the district could purchase additional lockers from its capital
improvement budget. There will be adequate space to install additional lockers if needed.
The challenge for the district is to build “just right” – that is, not to plan for too much
room but still accommodate projected growth, which is what this proposal addresses.
Is it true that the referendum does not address elementary space issues in Cottage Grove?
The proposed referendum would reconfigure the two elementary schools in Cottage
Grove. Taylor Prairie School would become an EC-1st grade school. The current modular
classrooms would be removed and there would be sufficient space for current and
projected growth. Cottage Grove School would become a 2nd – 4th grade school (with 5th
graders attending the new middle school). There is adequate room at CG School to
accommodate current student population for grades 2-4.
A recent flyer that was distributed indicated that the “true cost” of the second referendum question, which is to increase the revenue cap by $432,992 to address the additional operating costs associated with the building referendum, would
amount to over $100 million.
Is this accurate?
Simply put, this is totally inaccurate and uses vastly inflated figures. The dollar amount,
$432,992, becomes part of our "base revenue" each subsequent fiscal year within the
revenue cap formula. There is no compounding effect. The additional dollars remain, for
all practical purposes, a constant $432,992 each year. This would not be assessed until
the school actually opens (2008-2009 school year).
The Monona Grove School Board recognizes that a project of this scope will generate
considerable debate in our community. The proposed referendums have the unanimous
support of the board; the board strongly believes this proposal will be educationally
beneficial for our district's students. It addresses overcrowding at both Winnequah and in
Cottage Grove while meeting the expectations of the Monona Grove community for high
quality education with fiscal responsibility and cost-effectiveness. It has significant
citizen support in both Cottage Grove and Monona, and we note that all three local
newspapers -- the Capital Times, the Wisconsin State Journal, and the Herald-
Independent -- have endorsed this referendum package. We urge district residents to
carefully study the information provided by the district, and we urge passage of the
Monona Grove School Board:
Nancy Allen Kathy Bultman
Mike DuPlayee John Kitslaar
Phil McDade Mary Possin