by Luke Francois, Ed.D.
Mineral Point is a destination school district. A destination school district to me is a place where, when given choices, families choose to send their children and employees prefer to work.
Evidence that Mineral Point is a destination district–
In recent years, the number of students open enrolling out is trending downward while the number of students open enrolling into the district has steadily increased to a record high this year. Through an open enrollment survey, parents mentioned “better teachers” and “better communication” as the top two reasons for open enrolling into the district. In my personal conversations with families, they also cite a vibrant 4k program, academic performance, special education services, options for high school placement, and all the Mineral Point community offers.
Additional evidence of being a destination district finds, over the past few years, a dozen teachers, support staff, and administrators leaving the security of employment with former school districts to join the Mineral Point School District and our team. With teaching shortages across the state, candidates have choices, and choosing Mineral Point means the district is attractive in areas of salary and benefits, school climate, academic focus, support of professional development, and all the Mineral Point community offers.
With all the Mineral Point community offers, I also witness first-hand the families that do not ultimately enroll in Mineral Point Schools. When pressed as to why families chose neighboring districts over Mineral Point, the most frequent survey response is a parent/guardian works in another district, and it’s more convenient to take the child to the school of the city where the parent works. Verbally, the feedback I receive states a main reason to open enroll out is the availability of affordable housing. As of this writing, Zillow displays 25 homes for sale between $50K and $300K. On the surface, it would appear there are plenty of For Sale signs for families moving in, but size, style, covenant restrictions on historic homes, and location limit choices for potential families.
Families frequently next look to rent while in transition to permanent housing, or to gain residency in the school district, but quickly learn the Packer ticket waiting list is shorter than the list of available rentals. Zillow rentals currently display four units available in Mineral Point that are one or two bedrooms between $473 and $725 month. Size, cost, and availability are deterrents for families looking to rent short-term, or for affordable housing.
Over the years I have maintained that developments or subdivisions with several new starter homes would help families looking to locate to Mineral Point. Building infrastructure such as water, sewer, and electrical to new areas may incentivize developers to rethink Mineral Point and possibly bring new businesses to town. Companies increase the tax base causing lower taxes on residents for schools and additional revenue for the city to fix roads, repair buildings, and add other infrastructure. If Vortex chose to build their company in Mineral Point rather than Barneveld, or an eye clinic was brought to town, or a Culver’s were established, I wonder how Mineral Point would change and, for that matter, how much it would stay the same.
I am reminded by the saying, “When you get what you want you lose what you have.” Doing what Mineral Point has always done will yield similar results for families. And new development will assuredly transform Mineral Point into something that it is currently not. Therein lies the question.