Enrollment & Projected Growth

What is our current student enrollment and how much has it grown in the last five years?

The enrollment for the 2018-19 school year is 8,534 students as of the 3rd Friday in September count date. This is an increase of 934 students from five years ago (2013-14).

For how many years are enrollment projections typically reliable?

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.

What are the latest enrollment projections and where did they come from?

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.


Has a site been decided on for the potential second high school?

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.

What has the Sun Prairie Area School District done to ensure they are taking the community's input into consideration when developing the plans to address the secondary school space issue?

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.

What are the steps in the process (planning, referendum, construction, etc.)?

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.

Will the new high school have a pool, PERFORMING ARTS CENTER, competition fields, etc.?

The new high school would have similar building features and programming as the current high school. These amenities would include a gym/fieldhouse, a performing arts center, a swimming pool, and outdoor fields. Building equity has been stated as an important community priority.

Financial & Tax Impacts

What are the anticipated costs with the projects set forth in the secondary school space planning and associated referendum?

The capital referendum ($164,000,000) to address the secondary space needs would include:

  • Building a second high school: $140,400,000
  • Reconfiguring Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School (CHUMS) to serve 6th-8th grades and relocate Prairie Phoenix Academy to a totally separate and dedicated space at the current CHUMS building: $16,200,000
  • Building a new multi-purpose stadium at the Ashley Field site for use by both high schools and remove the current Prairie Phoenix Academy building: $17,400,000

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.

What are the potential tax impacts if the referenda are successful?

Question 1: Capital Referendum

  • Annual tax impact of $56 per $100,000 of property value 

Question 2: Operating Referendum

  • Annual tax impact of $72 per $100,000 dollars of property value 

What has our recent property growth been in the Sun Prairie Area School District?

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.