The Monona Rag

Dealing the Dish on Monona, Wisconsin

Tag: Nichols

Clamor to sell Nichols will grow

Monona Grove needs to make $1.2 million in cuts. This year, we don’t have 900k in federal dollars to throw at our deficit. And there won’t be large cuts into public employee compensation like last year. And we can’t close any more schools.

That means the district will need to come up with a lot of serious cuts for 2012-13.

With nothing dramatic available, this generally means chipping away at things. It will require cutting some staff positions, increasing fees for sports and programs, cutting some programs (4th grade strings, this means you) and services.

To avoid such cuts the district would need to find a way to come up with some big bucks very quickly. The only way to do this is to have a referendum (which is too late for next year, so we can dismiss it – for now), or sell off something of value.

Sell something of value? Nichols? Maywood? Could we be talking about you?

You bet.

In the upcoming weeks as the district has budget reduction hearings, you’ll hear a lot of people make the suggestion that the district sell Nichols and/or Maywood.

In reality, it’s virtually impossible for the district to sell either property and apply the savings for next school year. It’s simply too late.

However, when we do make some major cuts, you will hear a growing cry to sell off Nichols (and even Maywood). Because come 2013-14, we are going to have to go through this again, because we’re likely to have another $1+ million deficit.

The district has been given the approval to investigate the sale of Nichols (but not Maywood). Expect Superintendent Gerlach to mention that fact about 10,000 times during the upcoming budget listening sessions with the public.

We could have a referendum put forth in the fall of this year, or the spring of next, but there’s no promise it would be approved.

Whether it is worth selling Nichols (no one really knows the value of the property in this economic climate), expect a lot of voices suggesting that we do so.

Occupy Nichols occupation date this Friday

The individual behind Occupy Nichols appear to be moving forward with their plan to make a statement this weekend.

They have a schedule of events for Friday as they kickoff ‘Occupy Nichols’. It includes speeches. That’s a snoozer in my book. I see they are planning a march on city hall. And they have a band. That’s pretty cool. A band makes any protest group appear way bigger than they really are. Maybe I’ll stop by with my vuvuzela. In fact, wouldn’t it be great if they could have an entire band of obnoxious instruments. People playing bagpipes, vuvuzelas, kazoos and so forth. That would make the entire event worthwhile.

I can’t believe that anyone would want to spend the night camped outside of Nichols, but maybe I’m just a softie. I tip my hat to anyone who camps out.

I’ll be interested to see if anything comes out of this whole thing.

Occupy Nichols on Nov. 18?

Okay, this is interesting. The ‘occupy’ craze has hit Monona.

The URL above was posted in our comments section, and, to my surprise, it’s an actual website calling for an occupation of Nichols on November 18.

Anyone know anything? Is this real? It a combination of OMG, WTF and laughter at the prospect of an ‘Occupy Nichols’ movement. Sort of like Dan Quayle.


Future of Nichols and Maywood schools

At the most recent school board meeting, the board was given the authority to look into leasing Maywood School, and selling/leasing Nichols.

None of this is particularly shocking, since it has been discussed for some months.

This does not mean the district is going to sell Nichols. Or lease it or Maywood. It simply gives them the option of such a move.

So, is this a wise move? Would Solomon give it the old ‘thumbs up’?

We say yay. Or yeah. Or yup. Or ya. Or yah. Or any way you spell it – yes.

Why? Face it, unless Mayor Bob has a way to seize neighboring lands, Monona will not be growing. We’re frigging landlocked. That’s the fact.

As long as Monona is in the MG school district, we will not need any building other than Winnequah School.

Open enrollment won’t change numbers that much. Attracting families may help, but its not as if we are suddenly going to have 50 more families with two kids each move into the city. If anything, we will lose population as families continue to shrink. That’s the reality.

So that means we should examine the options for Nichols and Maywood. Nichols currently houses the Alt High School (as well as district offices), and moving those kids would certainly be a challenge. But the district owes it to itself to examine the options.

Schools are closing and merging all over the country. It sucks. We go to larger classes. Larger buildings. Losing the small, intimate nature of a place like Maywood is terrible. But it is happening. And while the Nichols building serves a good purpose, the district is totally right to look into what we can get for the property if it was sold (or leased). If we don’t find anything worthwhile, then we go on as is. But at least we looked alternatives.

The Nichols building is at a prime location in Monona. Finding out the value it has in the commercial world is the smart thing to do.

Nichols/Maywood in the crosshairs

The school board is looking toward the futures of the Maywood and Nichols buildings. Next month, the board will seek authorization from the public to sell and/or lease some district properties. This includes:

  • Sell or lease the Nichols property
  • Sell the two residential properties on Jerome street across from the high school
  • Lease the Maywood property

The board is not allow to sell the properties without community approval. So the question will appear on the fall ballot.

We heartily agree that these items should be considered. Just because we are authorizing the district to do such a thing doesn’t mean they will. If a decent deal isn’t found, they could just keep things status quo.

With regard to the first two items, the selling or leasing of Nichols should be investigated. The two residential properties on Jerome should be sold asap. They are just being used as storage.

The interesting one is Maywood. The option to sell the property is not being put forward. If Maywood was razed, the land could be used for approximately 20 homes. But that isn’t going to happen. Not at this time. The district apparently feels it could be used by the district in the future. For what, I’m not sure. District offices? Perhaps if Nichols is sold. I find it unlikely that Monona will experience a population boom that would require more space. But you never know.

Perhaps the district is simply being prudent on the future of Maywood. Closing the school and then putting it up for sale within a year would only inflame many residents.

Either Maywood or Nichols could be a destination for Madison’s Nuestro Mundo charter school, which is looking for a home.

Mayor Kahl wants to save Maywood…as a Senior Center

Mayor Kahl sent the district a letter offering a future for Maywood/Nichols/Winnequah schools.

Here’s a rundown from Doug Wood’s blog on Kahl’s plan:

  • Maywood: move district offices from Nichols to Maywood, keep pre-K, and turn the rest of it into the new Monona Senior Center. The city would kick in money to upgrade the facility for these updated needs.
  • Nichols: clear the property so that ‘Vacating Nichols would send such an indication that the District is at least willing to open the doors to a discussion on this facility’s future’. Otherwise, sell it.
  • Community Center: the Alt school would be moved to the lower level of the Community Center from Nichols.
  • Winnequah: would house K-5.

Implications of this?

I think it shows that the mayor doesn’t believe Maywood can be saved. The vote earlier this year was 4-3 – and Susan Fox and Lionel Norton are probably going to vote the other way this time.

It’s also pretty…dull? Turning Maywood into a Senior Center – which the mayor says is needed, just would bring a bit of a anti-climatic end to this entire debate.

Questions? Many.

  • Do we really need more room for the Senior Center?
  • Is it prudent to be spending money at this time on a new Senior Center?
  • What is Nichols really worth? Recent studies done by the district earlier this year show the property faces numerous issues. But Kahl says the ‘City has been approached with multiple potential development concepts for the Nichols site’. What are the likely options for this property?
  • Instead of closing Nichols down, do you look at alternatives for Maywood? How about adding homes into this large tract of land – these would be ideal locations for families (something our city says we need to attract). What better way than to drop down 10-20 homes a couple of blocks from a massive park (and a smaller one next doo), a pool and a library. Of course, once you do this, there’s no going back. Maywood is gone forever.

The last comment is really the thing that is looming before us – Maywood is likely gone. Kahl seems to be waving the white flag here – saving Maywood to be used by a different generation of our residents – and selling off Nichols.

On a side note – does anyone ever feel sad for Nichols School? No one seems to have fought for it like they have Maywood. It’s sort of the like ugly, older, less talented brother that everyone says they like, but deep down, don’t care about. I suspect that it has an inferiority complex.

Back on topic – what do you think of the Mayor’s ideas?

Again, read his entire letter at Doug Wood’s blog.