Dean Loumos, a MMSD Board of Education member, said it is common sense to know that overcrowding affects the students’ ability to learn. Class size as well as school space matters and cramming students into ill-suited rooms causes problems for everyone, he said.
The Board of Education considers overcrowding a serious issue that could not be ignored, Loumos said.
“Overcrowding is not conducive to good education policy, good implementation of a curriculum and it causes problems in behavior, which then impacts what goes on in the classroom,” he said.
Loumos pointed to housing policy and housing development as clear issues that lead to overcrowding and said the demographics of where people live and which school district they are in is not easy to control.
“We have some schools that are under capacity and some that are at or over, or nearly at capacity, and it has a lot to do with the districts that are bound that send kids to that particular school and housing policies and housing development,” Loumos said. “It’s a really complicated situation, and a lot of it is not under our direct control.”
Loumos referred to his visits to Sandberg Elementary and Hamilton Middle School, both of which are over ideal capacity and are predicted to increase in the future. He said both schools had a lot of land but were crammed with students in the actual classrooms.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the overcrowding is not a big surprise due to the consistent population increases that Madison has seen, notably in the downtown area.
“It’s my hope that some day the school district will seriously consider opening the long ago shuttered downtown schools now that there is an increase of families living downtown,” Verveer said.
Loumos said the board is considering several options to curb the capacity issues, such as facility upgrades in areas with population increases or even simply increasing the size of schools. According to Loumos, the one option that is not being discussed is redistricting.
The MMSD report cited a larger effort to build a long-term facilities plan and said they will review options for addressing the capacity issue.