A University of Wisconsin-based public charter school is asking the city to rezone its building so classes could begin next summer.
Sean Anderson, co-director and co-founder of Milestone Democratic School, is asking the city to change the zoning of a property at 2823 Index Road from industrial to business so the school can open in August 2020.
The year-round school is focused on increasing educational equity, according to a January 2018 prospectus from the Office of Educational Opportunity, which gave conditional approval of its charter status in February 2019, according to a Capital Times story. It would attempt to recruit students who live in poverty and work with children from at-risk and underserved populations.
Anderson, a former Edgerton Middle School teacher, said the timing of the rezone is “critical” so the charter school can become authorized by the University of Wisconsin System’s Office of Education Opportunity, which would have a similar role as that of a school board, giving it the right to operate as a public school. Although it would be inside the boundaries of the Madison Metropolitan School District, the school would be independent, with its design largely relying on student input.
The commission is likely to consider the rezone request in January, and from there it would be sent to the Common Council for final approval.
Anderson told the Commission the site, just south of Greenway Cross, is ideal to live out the school’s mission. Its curriculum, he said, is designed in partnership with youth, two of whom live in Fitchburg, and has a strong focus on arts and sports.
“We intend to develop a school where learning is engaging, where all voices are heard and where the most important step for everybody in the school community is that next step they’re going to take,” Anderson said.
The school’s ideal enrollment is around 64 students, the prospectus stated, and curriculum redesign will include “deliberative, democratic input” from students and teachers, Anderson said.
Its website called its learning model a “participatory democracy” that gives students choice over what they learn.