Board of Education Fact Sheet for Upcoming Referendum

Comprehensive Facilities Study

In the fall of 2014 the Board of Education (BOE) began a comprehensive facilities study to develop a long-term facilities plan and to address three complex problems:

  1. the trend of declining student enrollment
  2. the deteriorating and aging condition of the district’s facilities
  3. ensuring that the facilities match the district’s instructional vision for 21st Century learning

The process:

  • The BOE conducted a two and a half year study including 6 public forums, numerous publicly notified BOE meetings, in addition to three joint public meetings of the BOE, and Boards of Selectmen and Finance.
  • The BOE reviewed as many as 12 different models and unanimously agreed on building a new Ryerson School and renovating Jeffrey School.
  • The BOE maintained a focus on honoring public input throughout the process. This is evident in the various models that were considered and rejected.
  • The BOE committed to a final plan that would ensure equity across the system while serving the town’s best long-term interests, including cost-effectiveness.
  • The BOE Chair and Superintendent openly welcome and encourage any personalized discussions to review and clarify the process, the studies, the options, and the eventual decision made by the BOE.

Declining Enrollment:

Based on the declining enrollment trend, a school will need to close. As stewards of the town’s resources it is essential that the Madison Public Schools uses these resources efficiently and responsibly, with a long-term plan in mind. The BOE determined that its decision was well-informed, responsible, and would enable the town to maintain the high quality of our schools.

Island Avenue School has been selected for closure for the following reasons.

  • Closing Island Avenue School will result in:
    • approximately $1 million savings in operational costs annually,
    • approximately $2.95 million in revenue to the town for the sale of the property “as is”,
    • approximately $90,000 annually in property taxes as estimated by the assessor, and
    • a "north" and a "south" school campus model that will enable more efficiencies with staffing, busing and security.


Deteriorating and Aging Condition of School Facilities

Following the information learned in the comprehensive study, including a complete “needs assessment” for each facility, the BOE determined that immediate comprehensive attention (i.e. build new, renovate) would be given to the elementary facilities, and a gradual long-term support plan would be developed for the remaining facilities.

  • Basic maintenance and upkeep to Ryerson and Jeffrey Schools would eclipse $20 million in the next 10 years based on industry standards.
  • The BOE learned that this basic maintenance would amount to a short-term plan and would not include any enhancements, only scheduled maintenance for systems and building elements that reach the end of their useful life.
  • The BOE concluded that a basic maintenance approach:
    • would not be fiscally responsible over the long-term,
    • would not be eligible for state reimbursement funds,
    • would not capitalize on 21st Century safety/security, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, or learning environments for our students, and
    • would not be attractive to current and prospective residents.
  • The BOE concluded that given the condition of Ryerson School, it is more fiscally responsible, and in the town’s overall best interests, to build a new school, than to remain with basic maintenance.

State Reimbursement for Building Projects:

The opportunity to capitalize on state reimbursement for building projects was considered in the scope and timing of the BOE plan. By submitting application prior to June 30, 2017 the BOE was assured of receiving reimbursement funds (estimated between $4.0 million to $5.7 million). In addition,

  • all proposed state budgets over the past year, by the legislature and Governor, have maintained these reimbursement funds,
  • the MPS grant application was submitted in a timely manner which assured funding under the 16-17 fiscal year funding reimbursement model, and
  • the BOE and administration gave personal tours of the proposed projects to the CT Office of School Construction and Grants (OSCG), where assurances of reimbursement were made pending the submission of a timely grant application, which was done on June 28, 2017.

The Impact of State Educational Funding Reductions:

The town of Madison was schedule to receive $466,000 from the State for education spending in the 2017-2018 State budget. These funds are scheduled to be eliminated under all current state budget proposals. However,

  • The BOE anticipated and planned for this cut in developing the 2017-2018 school budget.
  • The BOE made significant staff reductions at the high school level (4 teaching positions) in addition to staffing reductions based on enrollment decline (an additional 3.5 FTE for a total of 7.5 FTE reduced overall)
  • These cuts were explicitly intended to offset the anticipated loss of state revenue.
  • As a result, the proposed cut of $466,000 does not affect the 17-18 operating budget.

Phase I

  • There is a need for “swing space” in order to complete both projects (new Ryerson, renovate Jeffrey), close a school, and carefully and thoughtfully transition students across the district in the shortest amount of time possible, thereby reducing costs while minimizing the impact to students.
  • The plans for a new Ryerson school will be focused on a modest construction. Elementary schools are less expensive to build than middle and high schools.
  • If passed, a new Ryerson School will open in September 2020, and the current Ryerson will be removed to serve as playing fields. Island Avenue School will remain open until June 2022 in order for Jeffrey School to be vacated for full renovation, pending approval of Phase II. Elementary students will experience an orderly transition over a two year period until a renovated Jeffrey is open in September 2022.
  • One of the largest concerns of the BOE over the last two years is how any potential movement affects students. A significant amount of time was devoted to developing a transitional plan that will incur the least amount of movement for students, while minimizing project timelines, thereby saving overall costs.

Capital Projects (i.e. facilities) and Annual Operating Costs (i.e. staffing, curricular/instructional programs, etc.)

  • Funds for facilities projects are obtained through capital funding streams (e.g. Capital Improvement Program (CIP), bonding, etc.)
  • Funds for staffing, curricular/instructional programs are funded through the annual operating budget that is voted on each May by the Madison electorate.
  • Capital funds cannot be diverted to staffing, or curricular and instructional programs.
  • The BOE rationale for developing a long-term facilities plan was to ensure that a basic maintenance plan would not annually siphon funds from the annual operating budget, towards unpredictable repairs to 50 and 60 year old facilities.
  • A long-term facilities plan offers predictability to the community so that staffing and curricular/instructional programs are not compromised, enabling the Madison Public Schools to remain as one of the best school districts, if not the best, in the entire state of Connecticut.

September 26th Referendum

  • The first referendum (Ryerson School) is scheduled on September 26th for $34,284,000 million (gross). The State reimbursement is between $4.0 million and $5.7 million.
  • The second referendum (Jeffrey School) is scheduled for Spring 2019 for approximately $33.7 million

*Please view the summary statement made by the Superintendent to the Board of Selectmen at a public meeting held at Brown School on June 7, 2017. The statement begins at 18:59 on the video player.

Board of Selectmen Meeting 6-7-17

Notice of 9/26/17 Referendum