Janesville64°

District still has space needs despite project’s cancellation: Board president

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Stacy Vogel
April 6, 2008
— A year ago, the steady growth in the Milton School District looked ready to explode.

Developers had announced two subdivisions of about 1,000 homes each on the north side of Janesville, part of the Milton School District:


-- Ridges of Rock County from Kennedy Homes on Highway 26


-- Rock Prairie development from Preferred Homes on Highway 14 and County A.


The developments were often mentioned to demonstrate the need for a new district school. In August 2007, the Milton School Board decided the district should focus on a new high school, instead of a smaller and cheaper middle school.


Today, the subdivisions’ futures don’t look so rosy.


Kennedy Homes has filed suit against its lender and halted construction in Janesville.


The Preferred Home subdivision isn’t going to happen, either. Janesville city officials said owner Bill Bohn has indicated to staff that he’s no longer pursuing the development.


Even so, the Milton School District still needs to deal with growing enrollment, outgoing school board President Sue Johnson said.


“We need to remember we grew the last three years at approximately 100 students a year without those subdivisions,” she said.


Those students might be young, but they will crowd the high school as they get older, officials have said. The middle school already is crowded, with classes meeting in old locker and storage rooms.


The district hopes to realign its elementary, intermediate and middle schools after building a new high school to meet space needs at every level.


School board member Mike Pierce has never supported that plan, and he questions it now more than ever, he said. He worries growth will slow after the new high school is built and the district will be stuck with more space than it needs.


Still, he agrees the district has to do something to accommodate growth. The board should look at other options, such as building a new middle school or limiting open enrollment, he said.


“If our schools are full, we don’t have to take (open enrollment students),” he said. “We should look at everything.”


The Milton School Board will continue to look at all its options, Johnson said. It’s waiting for the report of the Milton High School Design Team, which has been charged with presenting two or three options for a new high school and realignment of the rest of the schools.


Because the board never set a date for a referendum, it can carefully weigh its options and decide when the time is right for a new school, she said.


“The board will be looking at all the growth across the district, and certainly Kennedy Homes will be part of that,” she said. “To say it doesn’t have an impact I don’t think is fair, but to say it’s the sole driving force I don’t think is fair either.”



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