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District 5

Alder Regina Vidaver

Image of Alder Regina Vidaver

Alder Regina Vidaver

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Vidaver’s Updates

Capital High FAQs

August 22, 2021 11:43 AM

Hello neighbors,

Plans for the Hoyt School building to become the site of Capital High have been underway for years. All city committees that have reviewed these plans have unanimously approved them (see below). After the final approval by the Plan Commission, a group of nearby residents filed an appeal.

The Madison Common Council will be considering this appeal at the August 31 Council meeting. In consultation with colleagues at MMSD, Madison Metro, and our former Alder, I have created the following FAQs to respond to the questions I have received.

This item will be on the agenda for the Regent Neighborhood Association meeting on Tuesday August 24. I invite you to attend that meeting, as well as share your opinions prior to the August 31 Council meeting by emailing all alders, or by registering for public comment (you do not need to speak).  

Be well,

Regina Vidaver


Capital High at Hoyt School building: FAQs

Q: How is the Hoyt School building being used now?

A: The Hoyt School building was retrofitted from its original, intended use as a school to be used as a community resource; the building is currently used as the main office for Madison School and Community Recreation (MSCR). Multiple MSCR courses are currently offered at the building. The building will continue to be an MSCR site, including for new uses (see below), after school and on weekends.


Q: How many people currently use the Hoyt School building?

A: Approximately 50 staff and up to 200 site users on the busiest days.


Q: Who are the students of Capital High?

A: Capital High has come into existence due to a merger of various programs within MMSD over the past 50 years. Capital High serves MMSD students needing something different than what our "typical" high schools can offer, including a smaller learning community, programs serving school-age parents, individualized student pathways, and experiential learning experiences.

Students must apply to attend Capital High, by working with their home school guidance counselor or social worker. Students are interviewed to share why Capital High is their preferred school choice, what their strengths and challenges are in school, and their goals and dreams for the future. Capital High currently offers personalized learning to approximately 175 students; plans include the potential for the student population to grow up to approximately 300 students over the next 10 years, per student interest.

Capital High students come from across the school district, and are of every socioeconomic class and racial/ethnic group. In short, the students of Capital High look like America. Capital High students, like the students of all MMSD schools, have varied aspirations for college and careers. Some students seek to enter the job market immediately post-high school, while others enter college programs. Many will attend UW campuses; one recent graduate earned multiple scholarships to attend the University of Chicago.


Q: Why was it determined that Capital High should move to the Hoyt School building?

A: Capital High is currently split between three locations: Westside students are learning in an over-capacity leased strip mall site, Capital High Eastside students are using borrowed space inside Lapham Elementary School and Capital High Pregnant and Parenting students are using space in Marquette Elementary School.

Capital High students were instrumental in developing the vision for the future of their school. They wanted:

  • A single site to better serve all students
  • To be able to serve more students seeking personalized instruction
  • To be able to provide 21st century learning, including enhanced instruction spaces (science & arts labs), large common areas, a full gym, industrial kitchen, and onsite childcare
  • To be able to provide nutritious onsite lunch options

The Hoyt School building is centrally located, which means students living on eastern or western edges of the school district will not be disproportionally burdened by cross-town travel. The Hoyt School building is already owned by MMSD, which reduces burden on taxpayers, who would otherwise pay for rental, purchase, or build costs, all of which would be substantially greater than the $6 million needed for renovations of the existing Hoyt Building. The site was designed as a school, and is appropriately sized for the current and projected school population.


Q: What is the plan for the kitchen facility?

A: A multi-use culinary arts facility will be installed as part of the remodel, in order to develop a culinary center of excellence at Capital High, where students can earn a culinary arts certificate upon graduation. There is the potential for West students to also have access to culinary arts classes during the school day, as schedules and transportation needs allow. The community will be able to access the kitchen outside school hours through MSCR offerings. In addition, there are plans for MMSD staff to use the facility to undertake new menu development for the district, with the intention of offering healthier, fresher foods at all MMSD facilities. An on-site vegetable garden will also be developed and used in the culinary arts program.


Q: Who will be eligible to receive onsite child care?

A: All students at the school with small children will have onsite child care at the school. A small, toddler play area will be added to the front of the school. The child care facility will also serve as a training opportunity for students wishing to pursue careers in early childhood education.


Q: What about the kiln behind the school?

A: The kiln will remain, and will be used by Capital High students for art classes, as well as remain a community asset through MSCR. A maker space will also be added, which will provide wood- and metal-working space to Capital High students, and to the community through MSCR offerings.


Q: What are the school hours for Capital High?

A: Capital High will be in session from 9am until 2pm. Capital High is a closed campus; students will eat lunch onsite (via the culinary arts facility), and will not have the opportunity to exit the building between classes. After school, students will attend onsite after school programming, athletic opportunities at West High or another high school, or leave by bus to their home or work locations.


Q: What about parking?

A: Parking is available on the Hoyt School property both in front of and behind the building. When all MSCR programming was happening in person, 50 full time, seasonal and part time staff were parking at the building each day, with approximately 200 site users' cars coming in and out of the property on the busiest days. A total of 43 staff and 15 students are expected to need parking for Capital High (most students will arrive via bus).

Much of the street parking surrounding the building is limited to 2 hours except by residential parking permit. Notably, there are approximately 18-20 unrestricted on-street parking spaces directly across from the Hoyt School building on Regent and Larkin Streets, roughly ringing the office building housing DNAStar.

There are no properties surrounding the Hoyt School building that have fewer than two off-street parking spots.


Q: What is being done about water drainage issues at the site?

A: New curbs and gutters will be installed, as well as a bio-retention basin with storm sewer connection.


Q: What about bus traffic?

A: No more than five Metro buses will be needed to serve the school at bell times (9am and 2pm). The buses will travel the same route as previously used to transport neighborhood children to Hamilton Middle School, traveling to the school along Regent Street, and then turning south on Larkin Street. For reference, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, nine buses regularly traveled this route daily to transport neighborhood students to Hamilton. Madison Metro buses will not be traveling to/from the school except at bell times. (Please note: the final number of buses will based upon ridership and Metro availability.) Bus stop pads and associated sidewalk, crosswalks, terrace, curb and gutter and asphalt will be installed to ensure safety for all travelers to and from the site.


Q: What about Hoyt Park usage?

A: Our parks are free to use by anyone, so long as park rules are followed. For example, Hoyt Park is open from 4am until 10pm. This means anyone in the park between the hours of 10pm and 4am is subject to citation. Hoyt Park also requires dogs to be leashed, permitted, and licensed at all times. This means anyone walking/playing with a dog off leash, or without a permit in the park is subject to citation.

Capital High students will use the park for school-sponsored activities during the school day. A small, toddler-sized playground will be built in front of the school for the children attending day care onsite. Capital High students will have access to athletic teams and facilities at West High and other high schools.  


Q: What has been the process of bringing Capital High to the Hoyt School property so far?

A: A total of three public hearings specifically for the District 5 community were held: September 2019 (in person), December 2019 (in person; slides available), and February 2020 (online; slides available).  A summary of these and other discussions was compiled. Multiple community conversations and surveys about the referendum (below) were held across the city prior to its introduction.

Voters overwhelmingly (>70%) approved the following referendum on November 3, 2020:

Shall the Madison Metropolitan School District, Dane County, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $317,000,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a school building and facility improvement project consisting of: renovations and additions at all four high schools, including safety and security improvements, plumbing/heating and cooling, science labs and classrooms, athletic, theatre, and environmental sustainability improvements; land acquisition for and construction of a new elementary school located near Rimrock Road to relocate an existing elementary school; remodeling the district owned Hoyt School to relocate Capital High; and acquisition of furnishings fixtures and equipment?

On May 12, 2021, the Landmarks Commission unanimously determined the planned addition is not so large or visually intrusive as to adversely affect the historic character or integrity of the adjacent landmark (Hoyt Park).

On June 30, 2021 the Urban Design Commission unanimously granted final approval of renovations and additions for the Hoyt School building.

On July 12, 2021 the Plan Commission unanimously approved a conditional use in the Traditional Residential-Consistent 2 (TR-C2) District for a school, thus returning the Hoyt School building to its intended use, to allow renovation of and construction of an addition to the former Hoyt School to enable its conversion into Capital High School.

On July 22, 2021 an appeal of the Plan Commission's decision was filed by residents surrounding the Hoyt School property.

On August 3, 2021 the appeal was introduced to Common Council.


Q: What happens next?

A: On August 31, 2021 the Common Council will vote to accept or reject this appeal. Public comment can be made by emailing all alders, or by registering for public comment at the August 31 virtual public meeting.


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