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School Board Moves Forward on Fall Referendum

MIDDLETON–The Board of Education Monday approved putting on the November ballot a $24.9 million referendum aimed at replacing revenue lost to declining enrollment and heading off a projected $7 million deficit in 2023-24 school year.

If approved by voters, the referendum would raise $24.9 million for the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District (MCPASD) during the next four years by increasing property taxes by an accumulated $135 per $100,000 assessed evaluation.

The tax impact would be stepped up from $7 per $100,000 assessed property value in the first year, to $53, $39, and $36 per $100,000 in the succeeding years before expiring, according to the district. The referendum’s impact would be reflected in tax bills sent out in December.

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MHS Administrators Change Policies After Teacher’s Fine Arts Week Drag Performance

MIDDLETON–Following a drag performance put on by French teacher Matthew Kashdan during Fine Arts Week (FAW), Middleton High School (MHS) administrative staff have decided to use a vetting process for future staff acts at the Staff Variety Show.

FAW is an annual event at MHS where staff and students are given the opportunity to perform in front of their peers. The week of performances ends with the Staff Variety Show. In the past, staff acts have not been reviewed before the show, with Principal Peg Shoemaker saying that she was “surprised” by Kashdan’s performance.

In the future, staff acts will undergo a vetting process to “mitigate [conflicts] in advance,” Shoemaker said. “I want to make sure that staff… are not put in situations that cause harm to them.”

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District Office Staff Welcomes Comfort Dog

MIDDLETON–Employees at the central office of the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District (MCPASD) have had a frequent, furry visitor lately–Sammie the comfort dog. 

Sammie, who is half poodle and half mutt, belongs to the parents of the district’s wellness coordinator Kalise Horst. The four-year-old dog had trained to be a comfort dog at K9 State of Mind with trainer Amy Robinson and had been visiting assisted living facilities prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

One day Horst had an idea, maybe Sammie could come into the district office to visit employees and give them a chance to spend some time with a dog. 

“When I presented it, I said I can bring in a comfort dog at no cost to the district,” said Horst, who said she would like to start the conversation of having comfort dogs in the schools.

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Board Discusses Polling the Community on Operational Referendum

MIDDLETON–The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District (MCPASD)plans to survey the public to “test the waters” about conducting an operational referendum this fall.

Several focus or engagement group meetings have been held since February to convey budget challenges the district faces, the track record operational referendums have had in the past decade, and other subjects.

The group of approximately 85 participants said they had a good impression of the district. Also, they were nearly unanimous in favoring the district conducting a referendum to increase spending on ongoing operational costs, said Perry Hibner, a former district spokesman and now a lead survey strategist with the Donovan Group.

While there was overwhelming support in the groups for an operational referendum in theory, Hibner “guarantee(d)” that support would have lessened if the tax-impact cost to individuals were presented.

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Board Reviews Handling of Gun at High School

MIDDLETON–The Board of Education Monday reviewed what went right and wrong on Jan. 24 when Middleton High School (MHS) and two nearby schools were locked down in response to a report of a student with a gun.

The 15-year-old student was located and taken into custody within 45 minutes, but no gun was found on the student nor at the school, Superintendent Dana Monogue said at the time.

When staff received credible information about a student possibly having a gun, it decided that constituted a safety threat and the whole building locked down within five seconds, said Jim Blodgett, director of technology services.

After that, many protocols were correctly followed.

Middleton police responded quickly, and command posts were established for the school district and police.

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Alumni Group Proposes New MHS Stadium

MIDDLETON–While the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District (MCPASD) is proud of its high school’s athletic playing fields, it acknowledged that facilities for athletes and fans have fallen behind other schools in the Big 8 Conference.

That prompted a group Middleton High School (MHS) alumni to present an $8-$13 million plan to construct new locker rooms, concessions, ticket office, and most important, ADA compliant restrooms at a special meeting held Monday night.

Verona and Sun Prairie have new athletic facilities and a recent referendum in the Madison Metropolitan School District means upgrades to its high school facilities, Tim Cleary, of Ideal Builders, told the Board of Education at special meeting.

However, the condition of MHS’ facilities communicates a message to the students and the community that doesn’t reflect the on-field success of its athletic teams, said Mike Borden, who has the title of prime investor on the 12-member planning team. 

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UPDATED: Schools Released from Lockdown for Student with Gun, No Weapon Found

MIDDLETON–The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District released a statement today, announcing that a lockdown at Middleton schools had been lifted after police were called to an unnamed incident at the high school, which was later reported to be a student with a gun.

The statement read:

"At approximately 12:30 p.m. today, Middleton High (School), Clark Street Community School, and Kromrey (Middle School) were placed under a full lockdown. Middleton Police arrived on the scene shortly after, and the situation, which took place at Middleton High School, has been resolved.

The high school is still under a “building secure” status out of precaution, which means classes have resumed as normal, but the building is locked.

Clark Street, Kromrey, and Sauk Trail are resuming normal operations. Since Sauk Trail was nearby, they were placed under a “building secure” status. Again, the situation has been resolved."

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MHS Theatre Presents Sense & Sensibility in Black Box Theatre

MIDDLETON–On December 9-11 at 7:30 p.m., Middleton High School (MHS) Theatre will present its production of “Sense & Sensibility,” adapted by Kate Hamill. The performance will be the first full length production in Middleton High School’s new Black Box theatre and is directed by Katrina Brunner.

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District Will Not Need to Increase Walk Zone

MIDDLETON–The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District (MCPASD) will not have to eliminate busing students living less than two miles from a school as enough parents have opted out of district-provided transportation, Superintendent Dana Monogue said on Nov. 15.

Due to a chronic shortage of bus drivers, district administrators last week asked the school board to change the walk zone policy that buses students living 1.1 miles from a school to two miles, effective in Jan. 3.

Board members found the timing to be disruptive to families and asked administrators to poll them about opting out of having their children bused to school. Also, if there was any interest in becoming a bus driver.

The response this past week was “gratifying and overwhelming,” said Monogue, as families of a combined 907 students have opted out of taking the bus,“ plus, there was significant interest in driving a bus route.

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MHS Marching Band Steps into Second Place at State Competition

WHITEWATER–On the weekend of Oct. 16-17, the Middleton High School (MHS) Marching Cardinal Band placed second at the marching band state championships. The competition took place at UW-Whitewater and hosted approximately 30of the best marching bands from around the state of Wisconsin. Middleton returned to their competitive marching band program in 2016 for the first time since 1992. At their state championship debut in 2018 they placed sixth, followed by fourth in 2019. 

“We couldn’t be more proud of this achievement by the students. After all the difficulties they have been through the last year including a season off due to covid, we’re so happy for all of our students and the legacy our seniors will be leaving behind,” said band director Eric Rothacker.


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