Milton expects more growth
In fact, growth was the name of the game Monday as the school board discussed the current and projected effects of new homes in the district.
City planners project Janesville’s population to jump from 63,000 to 82,000 over the next 25 years, said Duane Cherek, Janesville manager of planning services. They expect 70 percent of that growth to occur in the Milton School District on the city’s north and east sides.
Currently, 55 percent of residential building permits are issued in the Milton district, Cherek said.
“That’s fairly aggressive growth,” he said.
The news comes as no surprise to Milton school officials. The district began planning for growth two years ago, the last time Janesville planners spoke before the school board.
At the time, Janesville was reviewing a plan from Kennedy Homes to build 940 new homes on the city’s north side, including 175 homes in the first phase of construction.
The city approved the first phase last year, but so far the builder has only constructed 12 homes, including four models, Cherek said.
“That’s not anywhere near, I guess, the amount or the rate of growth they’d expected,” he said.
Despite the temporary housing slump in Janesville and across the country, Cherek believes growth will continue at a steady rate. Milton Superintendent Peg Ekedahl believes it, too.
“The current slowdown is part of a normal pattern that ebbs and flows with the market,” she said. “I don’t think that changes the fact that into the future we’re going to need more space to educate our students.”
To provide that space, the district has proposed spending $60 million to $80 million on a new high school.
The school board took the next step in that process Monday, hiring Plunkett Raysich Architects to start designing a new facility. The firm will receive $15,000 for preliminary work before the plan goes to referendum, though that fee will roll over toward total design cost if voters approve the plan, Ekedahl said.
The district hopes to have the pre-referendum work done by summer, Ekedahl said.
The board also authorized hiring two new aides at Harmony and East elementary schools to deal with growth in their special education programs.
The two schools received a total of eight new special education students since the start of last year, and it currently doesn’t have the resources to meet all of their needs, Ekedahl said.
“We had so many new students enrolled that were unanticipated that we were unable to provide planning time, prep time, for our special education teacher at Harmony nor our special education teacher at East,” she said.
Overall, the district received 100 new students this year, according to a Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction count. Growth has hovered between 90 and 110 students a year for the past three years, Ekedahl said.