In January, a citizen group, Monona Grove Preserve our Partnership (POP), brought the Monona Grove School Board a petition signed by more than 1,000 voting-age residents of our school district. This resolution called for a district-wide middle school in Cottage Grove and the upgrade of elementary facilities in Monona at a total cost not to exceed $30 million, and the Monona Grove School Board has set forth a $28.7 million
referendum that meets these specifications.
While the board was heartened by this grassroots
effort to bring together citizens of both Monona and Cottage Grove, we did not
choose to support their proposal for this reason alone. In fact, the Monona Grove School
Board supports this referendum proposal because it is a sensible and affordable option
that meets the needs and circumstances of our unique school district for the following
• The MG POP proposal, and board’s referendum, acknowledges the changing
student demographics of the Monona Grove School District. Currently, nearly
two-thirds of our students live in Cottage Grove. We expect this trend to continue.
Within 10 years, we project that three-fourths of our student body will reside in
Cottage Grove. The Monona Grove School Board does not believe that renovation
of facilities in Monona for attendance by the students of Cottage Grove is
sensible. We believe that if modern and expanded middle school space for our
middle school students is needed, it should be built where most of those students
live. The unilateral proposal brought forth by a small group of Monona residents
to build an $18-$22 million 5th /6th grade intermediate school in Cottage Grove
would require an expensive, $8-$12 million renovation of Winnequah Middle
School for our 7th and 8th grade students. The construction of the 5/6 school,
coupled with this extensive Winnequah middle school renovation, would be just
as, if not more, expensive than the board’s referendum, and has the disadvantage
of continuing to bus an ever-increasing numbers of children from Cottage Grove
• The POP proposal, and the board’s referendum, does not add an additional
building to our district. Elementary children would be moved out of Nichols to
Winnequah; the total number of buildings in the district would remain at six.
Since each schoolhouse needs custodians, librarians, secretaries and other staff,
adding a seventh building to the mix is very expensive. The construction of a 5/6
building, or an elementary building in Cottage Grove (as suggested by yet another
small group of Monona citizens), would necessitate the continued operation of
Nichols school, resulting in operating costs twice that of the board’s proposal. In
short, the 5/6 building proposal is just as expensive to build, and costs twice as
much to run. In addition, the construction of a 5/6 or elementary building in
Cottage Grove will add yet another transition for those young children as they
move to a new building every two years. The alternative -- elementary attendance
areas -- adds even more operating expense to the district.
• The POP proposal, and the board’s referendum, provides millions of dollars to
rehab and renovate Winnequah for Monona elementary children in grades 3-6.
Maywood school received a new roof and other upgrades several years ago and is
in good physical shape, and thus minimal work is needed to keep that building
operating for Monona’s youngest children. In Cottage Grove, the move of the 5th
graders to the new building alleviates crowding in the elementary facilities.
• We are two communities, separated by geography but united by a common school
culture, history and the deep personal and family relationships that have evolved
over the past 50 years. This issue is about much more than where to build a new
school. It is about preserving a high quality school district for both communities.
The POP proposal honors the unique nature of our district by asking each
community to send its students to the other community for a portion of their
secondary education while keeping our youngest children close to home.
Monona Grove School Board