Capital High School currently operates out of three different facilities scattered across Madison. The alternative school, which is a part of the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), caters to roughly 200 students.
In July, Madison’s Plan Commission gave approval to Capital High to consolidate and move to the Hoyt School building on Regent Street. According to the Capital Times, the Hoyt School currently houses some Madison School & Community Recreation staff.
The move, which includes some minor additions to the building, would unify Capital High under a single roof.
That Plan Commission decision was challenged by a coalition of twelve Regent neighborhood residents. By last night’s common council meeting, that number had swelled to about sixty people.
Those against the new school cite concerns over increased traffic on the residential street, the availability of parking and Hoyt’s proximity to nearby West High School, which is about a half a mile away.
Several people who spoke at yesterday’s meeting said they supported Capital High and its mission, just not its new location in the Regent neighborhood. Angela Madelon, a Regent neighborhood resident, also raised concerns over Capital High’s plan to expand enrollment in the coming years.
The school is planning to bring its enrollment up from 200 students to 300 over the next decade.
“Obviously, we want this to succeed, and success likely will mean more students, and there’s little discussion of that, the building capacity, not to mention more street parking and traffic stress,” Madelon says.
Alders and MMSD staff say that there were numerous opportunities for the neighbors to raise those concerns earlier on in the process.
Six million dollars for the project was included in the MMSD funding referendum approved by voters last November. During the planning process for the referendum, Madison School Board Member Christina Gomez-Schmidt says local leaders engaged in several outreach efforts.
“During the referendum process in 2020, the school district worked with city alders and the community to do outreach to address questions about the relocation of Capital High School,” says Gomez-Schmidt. “I feel that the district has addressed many of the concerns expressed tonight.”
Alder Regina Vidaver, who represents the Regent neighborhood, says there were three public forums for neighbors to express their concerns.
“Many of the things that came from the public have been incorporated into the new design for the school,” Vidaver says. “For example, it was identified by residents surrounding the area that there was a run-off problem in the parking lot. Part of the plan is to mitigate that with new construction.”
There was also a public hearing session at the July 12th meeting of the Plan Commission.
The new school is also endorsed by the Regent Neighborhood Association, which voted at its meeting last week to support the project.
Alders voted unanimously to dismiss the neighbors’ petition to stop the project. Capital High is tentatively set to move into the new space by next August.
Also at yesterday’s meeting, the common council voted to declare a state of emergency at Reindahl Park. The park is currently the site of an encampment of unhoused folks, who have been permitted to stay at Reindahl while city leaders establish an alternative campsite.
As part of the state of emergency resolution, the city is eyeing two properties to relocate the residents to: a city-owned property on the 3000 block of Dairy Drive on the southeast side and an undetermined second site.
Per the resolution, the Dairy Drive location can receive around thirty people, and the second unknown site should also be capable of receiving about thirty people. The Capital Times reports that about seventy people are currently living at Reindahl.
There is currently no final eviction date for campers at Reindahl Park.
PHOTO: Jonah Chester