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Langlade County News

Consolidation Discussion Held by Antigo School Board

November 14, 2012

Change is coming to the Unified School District of Antigo in regards to what facilities will be open starting next school year, but how it will look is still up for debate. The district's Board of Education discussed their consolidation efforts during a special board meeting last evening.

Based on last week's failed referendums and a decision the board made last year, the current plan in place is to close the four rural elementary buildings and house all grades in the City of Antigo; kindergarten through third at the three remaining elementary buildings, fourth through seventh at the Middle School, and eighth through twelfth at the High School. Since they have some time before any implementation needs to takes place, the board is looking at some factors that will determine what building needs are required.

One key factor is if the district stays with SAGE, a state program that gives districts money to fund teachers and keep certain elementary grade classrooms with no more than 18 students per teacher. The current consolidation plan does not have this program continuing, but if a change is made to keep it then the district would have to make other changes to their plan such as adding portable classrooms to city structures, keeping one rural building in operation, and moving seventh grade students to the high school.

Board member Andy Merry did also ask district administration for some basic numbers regarding another possible operation referendum specifically designed to keep the rural schools open for up to three years with some improvements made to them. He described this referendum's purpose as giving the district more time to discuss long-term planning.

All these factors will be discussed more during the board's scheduled monthly meeting on November 27.

Last evening's board meeting saw its biggest public attendance in years with dozens of faculty, staff and community members watching. Nine people did speak publicly on the consolidation matter. A majority asked for the district to go forward with the current plan while others asked for a change in plans, suggesting more long-range planning, conduct staff testing regarding academic and drugs, and having all elementary students attend rural schools.

by Rusty Mehlberg

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