The Village of McFarland is located in Dane County along U.S. Highway 51, directly south of and adjacent to Madison, 90 miles west of Milwaukee and 150 miles northwest of Chicago (map). The county boasts an expanding suburban area, where a strong regional economy and opportunities for higher education continue to spur growth and expansion. McFarland is positioned to accommodate some of this growth in a balanced, well-planned manner. McFarland recently was ranked number five on moveto.com’s list of The Top Ten Places to Live in Wisconsin based on amenities, low unemployment rate and healthy median household incomes and home values.
The village was founded in 1856 by William Hugh McFarland, a railroad construction superintendent. He bought government land here to build and manage a depot that would serve industries such as harvesting winter ice and fish on nearby Lake Waubesa for shipment to Chicago. In the same year, William built a large home as a hotel for workers, visitors and settlers who were arriving by train. The McFarland House was home to several generations of the McFarland family before converting to use for a series of businesses. The house still stands today, the first floor remodeled as the popular McFarland House Cafe. Early village development also spurred a small resort industry on the banks of the lake. After World War II, the village became a bedroom community for Madison.
Today, McFarland boasts an active chamber of commerce and a friendly population of nearly 8,000 residents. Lake Waubesa, the Yahara River and Lower Mud Lake provide natural beauty and recreation on both water and land. In addition, the planned Lower Yahara River Bike Trail will link Madison’s Capital City Trail with McFarland’s McDaniel Park and will offer access to many additional state trails in a region that celebrates the great outdoors. Please visit the Village of McFarland website for more information about our village.
ENROLLMENT: The District is educationally strong and financially stable, with a consistent enrollment between 2,100 and 2,400 students for the past 10 years. Thanks to a reputation for quality, open enrollment from other districts accounts for 10% of the student population. However, this year, enrollment is full in all grades except 4K and three grade levels at the high school. With a current enrollment of 2,393 students, McFarland is just the right size – large enough to offer a full EC-12 academic and co-curricular program, but small enough to stay focused on each student. A robust summer school program continues the commitment to learning, and an impressive 70% of K-8 students participate.
ACHIEVEMENT: The District consistently ranks among the top districts academically in Dane County and in the State of Wisconsin. The most recent report cards from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction recognizes all five of McFarland’s brick-and-mortar schools as “Exceeding Expectations” or “Significantly Exceeding Expectations,” based on composite scores that take into account student test scores, graduation rates and similar benchmarks.
LEADERSHIP AND STAFF: On average, McFarland teachers have more than 30 credits of graduate studies in addition to their teaching degrees and certificates. In 2014, administrators had an average of 20 years’ experience and a doctoral degree. Even more important, administrators and staff alike genuinely care about students and the McFarland community. The attitude, atmosphere and student-focused nature of the school district are well-known throughout the state and help to attract top-quality applicants who strengthen the District even more.
FACILITIES: The District’s four schools include McFarland High School, Indian Mound Middle School (6-8), Waubesa Intermediate School (3-5), and Conrad Elvehjem Primary School (EC programming, Kindergarten, grades 1-2). In addition, the District partners with two community child care facilities to provide 4K education. Since 1998, all school buildings have been either newly constructed, expanded or renovated. In addition, technology for both security and classroom achievement are priorities. Computer labs and applications are updated regularly and mobile laptop and tablet carts are available in each building. In 2018-19, grades 2 through 10 will enjoy one-to-one iPad/Chrome Book instruction.
OUTDOOR CLASSROOMS: The District has several outdoor classroom resources: a registered school forest with historic Native American burial mounds (next to the middle school); a prairie (adjacent to the intermediate school) and a handicapped-accessible area in the McFarland Community Garden (four blocks from the primary school).
PARENT INVOLVEMENT: Strong parent involvement is a key ingredient for McFarland’s success. Parents engage in their children’s education at home, through school programming, by serving in the Parent Teacher Organizations and by volunteering. Each of the schools support this relationship by making available age-appropriate family resource centers.
VIRTUAL CHARTER SCHOOL: In 2009, McFarland School District approved a non-instrumentality charter with Wisconsin Virtual Academy for grades K-12. In addition to having McFarland’s reputation for quality behind this educational option, this partnership also provides grades 6-12 students in McFarland’s brick-and-mortar schools with free access to online classes, including remedial and specialty classes. Last year, the virtual school’s resources helped improve success and completion rates for McFarland High School’s summertime credit recovery program.
SCHOOL BOARD: The School District has a five-member board dedicated to the District’s mission and strategic priorities. They are community leaders, parents, and educational leaders who meet as a whole two times a month and govern at a policy level. The group has no standing sub-committee meetings but forms sub-committees to take on special tasks.
CO-CURRICULARS: The District offers a full range of before and after-school co-curricular opportunities in high school and solid offerings for middle school students. McFarland has one of the highest participation rates in the area for involvement in athletics, leadership and academic activities. The District mascot is a strong and noble Spartan.