MMSD admin building

The Madison Metropolitan School District's administration building, on Dayton Street in downtown Madison.

Madison Metropolitan School District will renovate its four neighborhood high schools and move forward with plans for a new elementary school off Rimrock Road after voters overwhelmingly supported its two referendum questions in the Nov. 3 election.

According to unofficial election results posted on the county’s election tracking website on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 75% of voters said yes to both referendums.

Combined, the capital projects referendum, at $317 million, and operating budget referendum, at $33 million, are now the largest successful set of school referendums in state history. The capital projects referendum was approved at a slightly higher percentage, with 79.6%, or 125,842 of voters voting yes. The operating budget referendum had a few thousand less people vote to approve it, with 121,002 voters voting yes, or 76.4%.

In a news release posted on the “Yes2InvestMSN” Facebook page, co-chairs of the advocacy campaign said they were grateful to the district’s voters for choosing to invest in its students.

“The work does not end here,” the Facebook post reads. “We encourage everyone who cares about the future of our community to get involved with our local schools through the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools and, alongside our new superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins, help us continue to shape a Madison that uplifts all its residents.”

The capital referendum, which was the longer and more descriptive question on the ballot, is for a variety of projects that would renovate the four aging neighborhood high schools and build a new elementary school in the Rimrock Road neighborhood just north of the City of Fitchburg’s border on the eastern side. It would also allow the district to remodel the Hoyt School building, located a few blocks south of University Avenue near West High, to relocate Capital High.

Some of the renovations to the neighborhood high schools include sustainability projects, such as window and door replacements, roofing improvements, asbestos and lead abatement and additional solar panels on the roof of each of the schools, according to a Feb. 26 Capital Times story. Each high school would get around $70 million in renovations.

The operating referendum will allow the district to surpass the revenue limits on its annual budget by $33 million, spread out over four years. The amount would increase each year, with $6 million for the 2020-21 school year, $8 million for 2021-22, $9 million for 2022-23 and $10 million for 2023-24.

The operating referendum will be used to pay staff and keep equity programs, according to an Oct. 2 story from the Capital Times.

Property owners would see an increase of $59 per $100,000 in value for the first year, the Capital Times story states, with an increase to $151 per $100,000 by 2023-24.

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.