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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Nostalgia: Planning: Michael Pierick Speaks at Evansville Common Council--The Written Text Submitted

(Ed. note. In preparation for the presentation of Supr. Heidi Carvin at the Evansville Planning Commission on Monday night, March 5, 2007, I have reprinted the speech of Mr. Michael Pierick to the Common Council in August 2006.)

Michael J. Pierick

126 Grove Street

Evansville, WI 53536

August 8, 2006

Common Council

City of Evansville

31 S. Madison Street

Evansville, WI 53536

Mayor Decker, and Members of the Common Council:

Good evening. For those who don’t know me, I am Michael Pierick, I live at 126 Grove Street, and I am a member of the Evansville School Board. I want to make it clear that I am speaking as a member of the School Board, not speaking for the Board, and not speaking as President of the Board.

Under contract to the School District, the Applied Population Laboratory at the UW-Madison is conducting an enrollment projection study. A representative of that Laboratory is scheduled to present the results of the study, an Enrollment Projection Report, at our September 11 Board Meeting, and then the Board will discuss the report and its findings.

An analysis of the maximum student capacities of our District buildings was conducted when the new high school was designed some six years ago. The maximum limits indicate the point at which the buildings cannot safely hold more students.

At that time, it was determined that the maximum student capacities of our four buildings are 500 in the elementary building, 550 at the intermediate building, 600 in the middle school, and 700 in the new high school, totaling 2100 students. Remember that these are maximums, not to be exceeded. The optimal limits are less, if we want to avoid extreme overcrowding and continue providing an excellent education.

The School District will not finish paying for the fieldhouse addition to the elementary and intermediate schools until 2012. We will not finish paying for the new high school until 2021. Please remember that: we have 15 years of payments remaining on the new high school.

Apparently, at the time the high school was designed, there was every indication that our building capacity would hold the District students until the high school was paid for. With the growth of the past six years, that is no longer the case. Even if development is held to the levels outlined in the Smart Growth Plan, the District will probably outgrow one or more of its buildings before the high school payments are complete.

I have seen a draft of the Enrollment Projection Report and there are two numbers that immediately caught my eye. The first is the enrollment projection based upon actual housing units, and those anticipated and outlined by area Smart Growth plans for the next ten years. As you probably know, actual housing units increased in the District by almost 50% in the past 15 years, and by 10% in the three year period from 2002 to 2005.

Projecting enrollment based upon actual and Smart Growth housing units alone, the District will need to construct a building by 2015, six years before the high school payments are complete. Remember that the development being discussed this evening has not been included in the draft enrollment projections. One can only imagine when a building – or two -- will be needed if this development goes forward.

The second number that caught my eye in the draft report is the ratio of kindergarten students to births in the district. Ten percent of our kindergartners moved into the District between birth and kindergarten. And our kindergarten enrollments grew XXX% from 20XX to 20XX. Again, this rate of growth does not include the development being discussed tonight.

The School District and the School Board have no choice but to respond to the growth that is allowed by the City of Evansville and area townships. One consultant likened K-12 education to making blueberry ice cream with whatever blueberries show up on the loading dock. If a lot of blueberries are on the dock, we have no choice but to mix them in. If they’re sour, then we mix them in. If they show up at the last minute, we mix them in. And we end up with a mixture that is something like blueberry ice cream.

So, regardless of what the City of Evansville does about this development, the School District will make something like blueberry ice cream. The problem is -- the blueberry ice cream may not be as tasty as you’d like, or the kind of ice cream that you want. And quite frankly, it might be very expensive ice cream for Evansville taxpayers.

As a member of the School Board, I respectfully request that you table the Council decision about this development until you have had a chance to review with the School Board, the Enrollment Projection Report when it’s presented in September.

We’ve heard considerable talk about how the City taxes are low and the School District taxes are high. I wish I could say that you ignore the school enrollment projections at your own peril, but that’s just partially true. You ignore these projections at the peril of all Evansville taxpayers.

Thank you.


Michael J. Pierick

Member, School Board, Evansville Community School District

this is an audio post - click to play

1 comment:

  1. yes I do think the city needs to start really looking at the numbers. These houses they are building are not adding enough in taxes to warrant the increase of demands in puts on the school. But also the school needs to remember that just because there maybe growth does not mean a ref. would pass. At this point I can almost assure them it would not. Because people know they have more options than just building new schools. They need to start using the space they have more wisely. They also need to know when they spend money foolishly , the Evansville Tax payers are not going to feel like footing the bill for a new school when they have wasted money on foolish things.