Sun Prairie High School

The Sun Prairie High School graduates of 2016 sit in the school's field house. The School Space Planning Committee recommended the district put a referendum for a second high school on the 2018 ballot. UW-Madison Applied Population Lab projections show the school surpassing its space capacity in 2023. 

Note: This is an expanded version of an earlier article. This appeared in print July 1. 

 

The Sun Prairie Area School District will have a 2016 November ballot referendum to build an elementary school, and will push a new high school vote to 2018 -- if the Sun Prairie School Board follows the June 27 recommendation of a citizen committee. 

The plans also suggest a 2021 referendum for another elementary school. 

The November referendum would likely ask taxpayers for $58.1 million to build a kindergarten through fifth-grade elementary school and cover districtwide renovations, land purchases and operating costs. 

If the 2016 referendum is approved, there would be an approximately $30 tax increase per $100,000 of property value over 20 years -- $68 on the average $225,000 home, according to district figures. 

A second referendum would ask for $1.4 million to cover operational expenses annually, a permanent increase in taxes. 

The School Space Planning Committee presented its recommendations to the Sun Prairie School Board on June 27 in the Performing Arts Center located at Sun Prairie High School. The committee recommended that a more costly high school referendum occur in November 2018. 

According to Eppstein Uhen Architects and district figures, it would be approximately $137.3-151.7 million, and an extra $4 million to operate the school annually. Committee representative Del Mineard Jr. said the district did not have tax impact information because housing growth could not be projected. 

In total, the committee proposed spending between $212.4-$234.7 in district taxpayer money for the three building projects.  

The grade configuration would be modified after the high school is complete. The proposed revised grade configuration shows the middle schools changing to grades six-eight and the high school to grades to 9-12. Cardinal Heights Upper Middle School, which houses grades eight and nine would become a third middle school.

The committee also recommended that a November 2021 referendum include another kindergarten through fifth-grade elementary school at a cost of between $38.7-$42.7 million, plus $1.7 million annually in operating costs. 

Mineard said the high school recommendation was based on the UW-Madison Applied Population Lab projections, which show the current high school operating at more than maximum recommended capacity by the 2023-24 school year 

However, he said a more pressing concern was the elementary schools, with six of the seven over maximum capacity. 

“The elementary school is our number one priority,” Mineard said. 

The School Space Planning Committee initially looked at including more building projects in the November 2016 referendum. However, a districtwide survey showed that non-parent, non-staff SPASD residents -- who make up the bulk of the district -- were unlikely to support a referendum over $100 million. 

Mineard said the committee used these survey results to come to their final recommendation. 

The School Board plans to approve a final plan for the ballot on Aug. 8 at 6:30 p.m. 

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