Zimmerman: Madison College breaking ground on major expansion

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When voters backed a referendum in the fall of 1974 giving Madison Area Technical College the go-ahead to borrow $30 million to expand the school, it took a dozen years for the new Truax campus to open.

This time around, the process is moving along at a much quicker pace.

Less than a year after area voters backed a referendum giving the college the green light to borrow up to $133.8 million to fund new construction projects in Madison and upgrades to the school’s campuses throughout the region, MATC is hosting a ground-breaking ceremony Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. The event will take place just outside the Truax campus’ Redsten Gym entrance.

“We are further along in the processes than we reasonably expected to be,” says Roger Price, Madison College’s senior vice president for administration. “I attribute it to the fact we had in place, prior to going to referendum, a solid facilities master plan. And we have in place a very strong team that has allowed us, once the referendum gave us the funding, to quickly move forward.”

Although the ground-breaking ceremony is Wednesday, construction on the college’s new health education building started Sept. 6. This 171,000-square-foot facility will be located at the corner of Anderson and Wright streets at the main Truax campus and will serve as the new hub for all of Madison College’s health-related fields.

The college originally estimated it would cost $41.6 million to construct this facility, but reported in August that bids for this project came in 20 percent under budget due to the sluggish economy and today’s competitive construction industry. The health building is scheduled to be completed by August 2013.

“Considering the fact we had to work not only with the state (technical college) board but with the city, Dane County, airport authority, FAA and DNR, we’re very pleased to have a shovel in the ground on this project and to have bids out on the street on a number of others,” says Price.

There are three other major construction projects planned for the Truax campus.

The $24 million Truax gateway/student achievement center will serve as a new main entryway to the building, and house a new library and student services area. This gateway is to be located on the west side of the main Truax building, between the entrances to the Redsten Gym and Mitby Theatre along Wright Street. A $16.5 million ingenuity center (just north of the gateway/student achievement center) will house advanced manufacturing and transportation programs in a new fourth wing of the main Truax facility. Bids on these projects are due Sept. 29.

The college also plans to construct a $21.7 million protective services education center which will house law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services facilities, most of which will be at the Truax campus. Bids for the classroom facility associated with this project are due Oct. 4.

Price says plans for some $7.3 million in renovations and upgrades at MATC’s regional campuses in Fort Atkinson, Watertown, Reedsburg and Portage are in various stages.

The college also is studying ways to redevelop its downtown Madison campus, is considering building dorms at the Truax campus and is examining how best to serve the south and west sides of Madison. The college recently expanded its Madison south campus, and the lease on its Madison west campus building runs out in four years.

In addition to the groundbreaking ceremony, Madison College also is hosting a free “Centennial Concert” Wednesday from 6:15 to 8 p.m. at its Truax campus. The event featuring the cover band Honeyshot will kick off a celebration leading up to the college’s 100th year of existence. The college opened in 1912 as Madison Industrial School. It was housed in the old fire station at 10 S. Webster St.

Via: madison.com

Digging in for the future: Racine Unified breaks ground on three new schools

RACINE — For any school district, breaking ground on a new school is a big deal. The Racine Unified School District will do just that three separate times just this week.

On Monday, August 17th, crews prepared the site of the new Olympia Brown Elementary School — which will open with a focus on science.

“We all know that’s a much-needed career, profession for children as they become adults. So this will foster that interest,” said Dr. Lolli Haws, Racine Unified Superintendent.

The school will remain in Caledonia where in April, voters narrowly supported an advisory referendum on creating the village’s own school district. The vote has no official impact, but it does color ongoing discussions in Caledonia and Sturtevant about whether to remain in Racine Unified.

“That’s all being debated right now. We have an ad hoc committee right now working on those types of questions and not to circumvent anything they’re trying to accomplish. I don’t know what the direction will be,” said Bob Bradley, Caledonia Village President.

“The fact we’re building in Caledonia acknowledges two things. It acknowledges there were needs out here that hadn’t been met efficiently. And it acknowledges the fact Caledonia is likely the place where growth will be in the future for this part of the Racine Unified School District,” said Haws.

As for the rest of the construction, Racine Unified will build a new Knapp Elementary School — which will also offer community medical and recreational services through the United Way. The district will also expand Gifford Elementary School, transforming it into a K-8 school.

Superintendent Haws says the goal is for all three schools to be ready for class by fall 2016. The district will hold groundbreaking events for Gifford and Knapp on Wednesday and Thursday.