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With any enrollment projections, the further out the projections go, the less reliable the projections can be. However in 2008, the University of Wisconsin Applied Population Lab (APL) projected about 8,739 students for the 2018-19 school year, and the actual number is 8,534. This is about 98% accuracy.
The University of Wisconsin Applied Population Lab (APL) provides enrollment projections for the district on an annual basis, with the most recent update completed in November 2018. In addition, the district contracted with MDRoffers Consulting to provide additional enrollment projections. Mark Roffers from MDRoffers Consulting presented his August 2018 Sun Prairie Area School District Community Growth and Projections Report to the district and interested community members on October 3, 2018.
Between September 2018 and 2030, MDRoffers Consulting projects an increase of 2,098 K-12 students in the District. Specifically in regards to secondary school space needs, 6th-12th grades enrollment is projected to grow by over 1,230 students by 2030. The current high school is already over target capacity and is anticipated to be over maximum capacity between 2025 and 2030.
The State of Wisconsin allows students to attend a school district outside of where they live or have residence. This is called open enrollment. For every student who open enrolls in, the district receives about $7,400 for regular education students and about $12,400 for special education students. For every district student that open enrolls out, the state takes away the same amounts. There is a large financial component to open enrollment. For the current year, it is projected that the district will have a net positive impact of $456,000 from open enrollment. The district is careful to place open enrollment students in schools/grades - and in the case of special education, programs where space is available. The district currently significantly limits the number of open enrolled students at the high school because of space availability.
The capacity of a school is based on how individual rooms in a facility are being used, and takes the recommended number of students per instructional space multiplied by a utilization factor. Over time, the capacity of a school typically changes due to state mandated programs. These programs have typically decreased school capacities from when they were first constructed. In the Sun Prairie Area School District, the School Board has established a recommended number of students per instructor per grade, which is a different number for most grades. Middle schools or high schools are calculated differently than an elementary school because classrooms are dedicated to a specific group of students at the elementary level.
The method of calculating capacity is calculated two ways;
Target Class Size Capacity is the optimal enrollment level where the building is functioning most effectively as an educational facility.
Maximum Class Size Capacity is the maximum enrollment level that the building can effectively manage.
See the 2013 Building/Program Capacities - Educational Space Analysis for more information. This analysis was created to evaluate current and future space needs including target and maximum capacities.
The district can and does limit the number of open enrolling students that come into the district based on space availability and in the case of special education, our ability to meet their programmatic needs. Only schools/programs that have space accept students. For example, even though a parent might request Horizon Elementary School for open enrolling a student into kindergarten, the district would not place a student at Horizon if the kindergarten classes are full. The district places open enrolled students in grades/schools/programs that have room.
For the 2018-19 school, there are 262 students open enrolling into the district, and 193 students open enrolling out. Open enrolled "in" students account for approximately 3.0% of the total enrollment. Open enrollment is not driving the enrollment growth in the district. For every student who open enrolls in, the district receives about $7,400 for regular education students and about $12,400 for special education students. For every district student that open enrolls out, the state takes away the same amounts. The 2018-19 the net financial impact is a positive $456,000. The state gives and takes aid away from a district to cover the cost of open enrolled students both in and out of the district.
School district boundaries do not coincide with with city, village, or township boundaries. Some municipalities generate more equalized value towards the tax base than they have students enrolled. For example, a portion of the City of Madison property within the Sun Prairie district boundaries contributes 16% of the total district tax base. However, less than 1% of students who attend district schools live in the City of Madison.
Long-range facilities master planning is a process used to make prudent decisions regarding current and future facilities and sites. Planning is a constant process for growing school districts like Sun Prairie. The planning aligns with the district's overall Vision, Mission, and Strategic Plan. Master planning is supported by due diligence regarding current facility conditions, understanding objectives and drivers, engagement of diverse stakeholder groups to understand values and priorities, and creative facilities solutions. Each potential component identified within a Master Plan may not become an immediate reality; the goal is to establish a clear vision for facilities as the foundation for fiscally responsible decision-making today and in the future.
The district owns approximately 100 acres off of Hwy 19, between Walgreens West and Gus's Diner. This land was purchased in 2005 for a second high school. The district has explored other land purchase options, but no other options have come up at this time that would be suitable for a second high school. The site is favorable considering it has five distinct access points.
Staff, students, parents and community members were invited to participate on the Secondary School Space Planning Committee (SSSPC). There was also community engagement sessions and focus groups held throughout the committee's process. A community survey was sent out to all staff and residents of the Sun Prairie Area School District asking for their input on the secondary school space plans. The public was invited to attend all SSSPC meetings, as well as the presentation of the Community Survey results and the Enrollment and Growth Projections report on October 3, 2018. The culmination of the SSSPC's work was the presentation of the committee's advisory recommendations at the November 12, 2018 Board meeting.
There will be 2 referendum questions on the April 2, 2019 ballot. If the referendums pass, there will be a number of subcommittees formed. The planning phase will begin immediately to develop plans and complete this work. A high level timeline as well as the committees that will be formed can be found here.
A small budget has been established for the current high school to create collaborative learning spaces that better support small group instruction and hands-on learning. Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School (CHUMS) would be renovated to serve as a third middle school to house the District's growing 6th-8th grade enrollment. In addition, part of CHUMS would be sectioned off to create a separate and dedicated space for Prairie Phoenix Academy (the current PPA building would be removed). CHUMS would also include a space for professional development/staff training. Patrick Marsh and Prairie View Middle Schools would also receive minimal investments for the learning environment. Ashley Field would be rebuilt for use by both high schools for competition and co-curricular events (athletics, marching band practices and performances and other community events). Both the current and second high school will have practice fields that can support events. Additional parking would be added at Ashley Field as well.
Two competition fields were not supported in the community survey. The Secondary School Space Planning Committee and the Board worked hard to put forth to voters a solution that was supported by citizens in the community survey. The second competitive stadium venue would have added another $17 million to the referendum.
This is the option that was supported by citizens on the community survey. This will allow Sun Prairie to continue to feel like one united community and save money by investing in one, competition stadium. Both schools will still have a variety of outdoor co-curricular spaces for games and practices. A second competitive stadium would have added another $17 million to the referendum.
The current high school site was explored as an option. Traffic challenges, site concerns, and school size (the number of students in one location), caused this solution to be rejected by the Secondary School Space Planning Committee. In addition, remaining as one high school would continue to limit the opportunities available to our students.
If our current high school housed grades 9-12, the enrollment would be 2,447 students. Per WIAA information, 2,447 students would be the largest school in the state by nearly 200 students. The projected enrollment for the Sun Prairie Area School District is expected to be nearly 10,000 students in 10 years. Every district with larger student populations that the SPASD has two or more high schools.
The Secondary School Space Committee did not want the current Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School (CHUMS) building to accommodate more student capacity (725) than the two existing middle schools. Therefore, space was available at the CHUMS building. The building will house Prairie Phoenix Academy, a third middle school, and professional development space. This will fully utilize the space under this roof for three distinct and separate purposes.
When the grade configuration was changed to 6-7, 8-9 and 10-12 initially, the intent was to revert back to the traditional grade configuration (6-8, 9-12) once a second high school was built. At that time, it was projected a second high school would be needed in 10 years. The focus now is how has schooling changed in the last 10 years, and what access to opportunities are students given? Our data is no better or worse than other schools when comparing the 9-12 campuses.
This referendum is Phase II of the November 2016 referendum. The Board purposely divided solutions to meet the enrollment needs into two distinct phases. Phase I was focused on an elementary solution and was presented to the voters in November 2016. Phase II is focused on a secondary solution and will be presented to the voters in April 2019. In 2006, the community rejected constructing two high schools. In 2007, a referendum was passed to build one high school. The school was purposely sized at its current capacity knowing that in about ten years a second high school would need to be explored.
The School Board adopted a new grade configuration based on the recommendation brought forward by district administration in May 2018. The new grade configuration will be grades 6-8 and grades 9-12. This is the most common grade configuration for schools. The new grade configuration cannot be implemented until space solutions are implemented at the secondary level due to space constraints at the current high school.
Conversations are occurring between the District and the City of Sun Prairie around this topic to ensure traffic issues are alleviated as much as possible and that students, staff and the community can access the high school safely. As opposed to the current high school with only two entrances, the second high school will have five access points which will help to disperse traffic much better than the current high school.
Wisconsin Act 59, passed in 2017, limits a school board to no more than two ballot questions per year to issue debt or to exceed the district's state imposed revenue limit. Operating and capital referendum questions must be asked separately. All secondary school space solution components must be combined within each king of question for no more than two questions.
We work with the Sun Prairie Police Department and the Dane County Sheriff’s Office to develop a hazardous transportation plan. Unusually hazardous areas are within 2 miles of the school.
An "unusual hazard" is an existing transportation condition that constitutes more than an ordinary hazard and seriously jeopardizes the safety of pupils traveling to and from school. It is understood that all traffic situations through which pupils must travel present some degree of hazard, which is often dependent on the age of the pupils involved. When such hazards reach a level of danger which is unacceptable to the community in which they exist and which cannot be corrected by other local units of government, a school board may develop a plan to designate such an area as unusually hazardous.
The law does not dictate the specific conditions that constitute an unusual hazard. Since characteristics vary widely from one district to another, local officials are typically in the best position to determine what constitutes an unusual hazard in their own community. Some, or all, of the following suggested criteria/conditions may be used to assist local governments in determining whether an unusual hazard exists.
Age of pupils
Lack of sidewalks
Lack of crossing guards
Lack of local law enforcement
Width of shoulder of road/highway
Temporary hazards such as construction projects or street repairs
Other conditions identified by local units of government
The local county sheriff is required to review the district's plan (and may suggest revisions), investigate the designated area and make a determination as to whether unusual hazards exist which cannot be corrected by local government. Upon completion of this review, the sheriff shall report the findings in writing to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and the school district.
The architect will design and engineer the projects and work with the District through project completion. The construction manager is hired to supervise the project from start to finish; all trade work will be competitively bid to encourage local participation and ensure the most cost-efficient project.
How does the District handle the construction bidding process?
· Design-Bid-Build – this is the traditional complete 100% of the design, then send out for detailed bids, and finally contract with generally the low bidder to complete the work. In this case it becomes expensive to change the design based on costs because designs are completed before the bidding process. Any changes to design (for cost reasons or otherwise) also extend the timeline for completion of the project, often considerably. Construction risks (i.e. change orders, etc.) generally lie entirely with the project owner (in this case the school district) and generally require a considerable dedication/level of time and knowledge by the owner on the project.
· Design-Build – this is where a single entity is completely responsible for all the design and building of the project. Construction costs are known and fixed during the design process and design modifications can be made relative to the cost estimates as the design process is occurring. Generally, any construction risks (i.e. change orders, etc.) are transferred in this method to the design-build firm as opposed to being the responsibility of the project owner (in this case the school district).
· Construction Manager at Risk – this is essentially a hybrid of the two methods listed above. The responsibility for construction is transferred to the construction manager in this case and much of the risk for constructing the project is also transferred while the design aspect is separately contracted by the project owner (school district). Costs are fixed, however, during the design process so design modifications can be easily made to meet the budget and schedule of the project. In this case there is much collaboration on the project cost and execution between the owner (the school district), the design firm and the construction manager (and their sub-contractors).
The School District, both for the elementary schools just recently opened, and for the secondary space project(s) use a modified version of the Construction Manager at Risk methodology. Here is the specific process used by the School District:
· The School District solicited bids for the design/architectural work required for the project and ultimately interviewed four firms, selecting Bray Architects in the end for this work.
· The School District solicited bids for the construction manager required for the project. This was based on conceptual documentation developed by the design firm so that consistency in the bids would be provided. Ultimately the District interviewed two construction management companies and selected Findorff as the construction manager.
· Should the referendum pass, the School District design team (with many teachers and staff included) will work with the design/architectural firm and the construction manager to design and cost-out the project(s). Ultimately the School Board will also be brought into the process to review design and cost information for the project(s).
· The construction manager (in this case Findorff) will solicit bids early in the process for major sub-contractor work (i.e. electrical, HVAC, plumbing, etc.). By bringing these contractors into the project at an early point in the project, they are able to also collaborate on design and implementation aspects of the project providing efficiencies on the implementation of the project that reduce the overall cost and timeline of the project.
There is some deviation from the typical Construction Manager at Risk methodology of completing our project in that the School District is actually involved in approving nearly all (80%+) of the sub-contractors and construction work/bids in collaboration with the Construction Manager, including any work that may be self-performed by the Construction Management firm. (Traditionally the construction manager would have sole responsibility for this and the owner would not be involved.)
The capital referendum ($164,000,000) to address the secondary space needs would include:
The total project cost is $174 million. An accompanying operating referendum, if passed, will allow the district to borrow $10 million dollars less, or $164 million, to accomplish the full project scope. Borrowing $10 million dollars less is projected to save citizens a projected $6 million of interest costs over the 20 year payback period.
In order to answer this question we need to explain how the district borrows money for building projects. Sun Prairie Area School District (SPASD) has had many building projects in the last 20 years. Unlike a house mortgage that has a flat amount for the entire payment period, a district is able to adjust the payment schedule over the 20 years (20 years is the maximum a district can borrow by state law). Using good financial management, the district has structured debt to coincide with existing drops in the payments. Therefore, this levels out the impact of new debt. The current high school will be paid off in ten years and the potential second high school borrowing would put much of the new payments out into the future past 10 years. This also ensures that new families and businesses to SPASD pick up a share of the new buildings. This is a complex topic and if you would like additional information, please contact Phil Frei, Director of Business & Finance at (608) 834-6510.
The district's property tax base (total equalized value) grew by 8.9% this year. More property value growth equates to more total property value to spread referendum debt payments and operating expenses across. To project tax impact, the district is using a conservative growth estimate for the next 20 years (most years at 1%). If property growth and total property value increase more than 1% the final tax impact would be less than projected.
Wisconsin's school district revenue cap formula does not increase with the opening of a new school. The district's expenses will naturally increase due to the additional space needed to serve a larger student population (primarily due to staffing, equipment, supplies, utilities, and other operational costs). Therefore, the funding amount stays the same unless voters also approve an operating referendum to exceed the revenue cap for operational funding. If the additional funding is not secured, money needed to staff and operate the new school would need to come from existing resources, meaning deep cuts would be needed to balance the budget. The state requires a separate questions for operating and capital referendums.
All 10 municipalities contribute to the tax base for the district. School district boundaries do not coincide with with city, village, or township boundaries. Some municipalities generate more equalized value towards the tax base than they have students enrolled. For example, the portion of the City of Madison property within the Sun Prairie district boundaries contributes 16% of the total district tax base. However, less than 1% of students who attend district schools live in the City of Madison.
The cost to build increases every year. The average rate of construction inflation is estimated at 3.1% per year. If a building is constructed in 2018, it would cost less than the same building constructed in 2020 or later simply due to construction cost inflation. Additionally, interest rates remain historically low.
Operating funds are needed to staff and run the second high school. If the operating referendum is unsuccessful, the district will need to engage citizens for feedback and try to secure sufficient funds on the next referendum cycle in order to avoid deep budget cuts to operate the second high school.
The Sun Prairie Area School District is committed to engaging our workforce and has a long history of collaboration, including most recently when the Teacher Compensation Framework was updated this past fall. If the referendum is successful, the compensation committee, which is comprised of teachers, administrators, and board members, will collaborate to create a plan proposal for board action on how to equitably distribute the compensation funds. Examples of discussions that will occur include, but are not limited to, the following:
These are all discussion factors and each decision will impact specifics regarding how much each staff member receives. Therefore, no estimate ranges have been provided; instead, modeling has been done in the aggregate.
Open enrolled families do not pay taxes to the Sun Prairie Area School District, however, the district receives aid from the state (from the sending district) to offset the cost of students who open enroll in. Conversely, the state sends our tax dollars to the neighboring district for Sun Prairie Area students who open enroll out.
The District and Findorff have a long track record of coming in under budget, recently this happened with the two new elementary schools (Token Springs Elementary and Meadow View Elementary). When we come in under budget, remaining funds stay with the district. The School Board determines how the funds will be used. Funds must be used in accordance with the referendum question or alternatively used to decrease outstanding debt.
A feeder system can be explained as the "pathway" grade progression through different school levels (elementary, middle and high school). If the referendum is successful, there will be a number of subcommittees formed. One of the committees will be the Boundary Task Force Committee. That committee will create a secondary schools boundary proposal for board consideration. Currently all elementary schools except Token Springs have a "clean" feeder system - meaning all the students within the school progress to the same middle school.
Transitions are extremely important because they represent major shifts in the daily contexts in which children and adolescents interact. For some students, the transition is smooth and peaceful, whereas for others, it is stressful. School transitions are related to a variety of behavioral and psychological changes. Research indicates that across transitions, students often experience changes in relationships with peers, parents and teachers. In addition, behavioral problems often become evident after a school transition, which is particularly true when students interact with new peer groups after the transition. Much research has examined changes in academic variables after transitions; many transitions are related to notable changes in students' motivation to learn, academic performance, and attitudes toward school.
If the referendum is successful, there will be a number of subcommittees formed. The Student Migration Committee will determine how students will be transitioned into the second high school. In addition, the Activities, Athletics & Recreation Committee will address co-curricula. These committees will delve into the details of how programs will be structured and the transitional plans for their implementation. Overall, parents want more opportunities for their children so it is expected that expansive co-curricular opportunities will exist at each school. If teams exist at each high school they will compete against each other.
Divisions are determined by the WIAA for each respective activity and may change by year. The student transition plan must be completed before this question can be answered. If the referendum is successful, there will be a number of subcommittees formed. The Student Migration Committee will determine how students will be transitioned into the second high school. In addition, the Activities, Athletics & Recreation Committee will address co-curricular structure. Having two high schools will inherently meet the goal of more opportunities for students.
It will not be known until further in the process whether our athletic programs will be Division 1 or Division 2, but whether we are Division 2 vs. Division 1 will not hurt our student athletes' abilities to receive a collegiate athletic scholarship. The Executive Director of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA), who has experience as a Division 1 college football coach and recruiter, states that “If a student athlete has the grades and the talent, you can’t hide them. The size of the school or community or the division/classification of the sport program makes ZERO difference” in the student athlete’s ability to be awarded a collegiate athletic scholarship.
District citizens were surveyed in order to put forward referendum questions that reflect the feedback obtained in the community survey. If voters do not support the ballot questions, further feedback will be solicited to see what thinking changed from the original survey. The school space problem will not go away, it will only worsen and costs to address solutions will only increase as time goes by.
Yes, the resolution meets the legal requirements. Since the resolutions are legal in nature, an attorney provided guidance and drafted them. In an effort to assure the community and allow citizens to be focused on the merits of the proposed referenda, the District secured a second legal opinion from Quarles & Brady, LLP to assure the public of the legality of this resolution. Please find the Quarles & Brady legal opinion HERE, which states that it is their view that the operational referendum resolution is “written in a way whereby the District’s revenue limit base could be increased in an amount not to exceed $5,000,000 on a recurring basis (i.e. on a permanent basis) beginning with the 2019-20 school year if the referendum is approved by District electors at the April election.”
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