Residents in the Monona Grove School District are invited to a special meeting later this month to decide whether to allow the district to purchase another 15 acres of land in Cottage Grove for a new school.
District officials originally said they needed the 14.771 acres west of Glacial Drumlin School and south of recently purchased property along Buss Road to connect the two properties with a walking path, internal road and other amenities. Now it appears as if the new elementary school will straddle the already purchased property and the land officials hope to buy.
Much of the 40.9 acres already purchased will be used for future playing fields.
A conceptual plan of the new building and layout was scheduled to be presented to the Cottage Grove Plan Commission on Wednesday. A petition to annex the nearly 41 acres from the town to the village was also on the agenda.
The purchase price for the 14.771 acres is $55,000 per acre for a total of $812,405.
The land is part of a 30.586-acre parcel owned by Donald Blair and Michele Blair. The entire parcel was valued at $7,700 for 2019 tax purposes.
School officials and the Blairs initially could not agree on a purchase price, so in December, the Monona Grove School Board passed a “resolution of necessity” as a first step to acquiring the land through eminent domain if a price could not be agreed upon.
“This will allow us to move students and staff somewhat safely between the properties so we can make use of the facilities on both properties in a safe and efficient manner,” then-board President Peter Sobol said at the Dec. 19 school board meeting.
In 2017, the district paid $1.6 million (about $40,000 per acre) for the 40.9 acres as a site for a new elementary school.
While the $1.6 million was borrowed to finance the former land purchase, the new land purchase would be financed with a $1 million-plus windfall after city of Monona officials close out of the city’s tax incremental finance districts this year.
The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, at the district office, 5301 Monona Drive, Monona.
Since the $57 million referendum passed in November 2018, the Monona Grove School District has moved into the next phase of planning and design.
One design team will plan and design the new elementary school, and a second team will plan and design renovations to existing buildings.
The conceptual plans for the new school were presented to village officials earlier this week.
Design concepts for the new school include:
– varied learning environments: Classrooms will be organized around small group instruction rooms and large collaboration spaces, allowing staff to employ multiple instruction methods throughout the school day.
– flex cafes: Rather than one large cafeteria, the new elementary school will include smaller flex cafes (one per classroom wing) that can be repurposed and converted to flexible instructional areas before and after the lunch period.
– social stair: The school will have a large “social stair,” a versatile space for students to gather, meet, learn and collaborate.
– safety and security.