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Langlade County News

No Consolidation For Now; But Change Will Come To Unified School District of Antigo

December 19, 2012

No elementary buildings in the Unified School District of Antigo will close next school year. The district's Board of Education made a change in their potential consolidation plans during their latest meeting Tuesday evening. By a seven to two vote, the board rescinded their previous plan passed last year to close the four rural elementary schools and house all students in the five academic buildings in the City of Antigo starting next school year.

In its place is a plan passed by the board on a six to three vote. The plan, similar to a proposal presented by District Administrator Steven Smolek last week, will result in a delay in any possible building closures until the 2014-2015 school year at the earliest.

It also creates a task force, consisting of community members selected by Smolek and three board members. The task force will spend the first half of 2013 creating a possible long-range plan for the district to address future building and education needs. The task force will have to submit their report to the board by July 1. The board could use that report to help make decision on what direction the district takes in regards to future consolidation and potential referendums.

This change does satisfy the dislikes some district residents, administration and board members expresses over the past weeks regarding consolidation models that were under consideration since the failure of the most recent building/operations referendum in November.

However, it does put the board and administration in a similar situation as in past years of having to bridge a million-dollar plus budget shortfall next school year. Most likely it will mean cuts to staffing and programs, and other potential changes such as a K-12 busing system, split grade classrooms, and the one time use of money from the district's fund balance.

Last evening's meeting was the regular monthly meeting for the board, so other actions were taken. These included approving a change to the Pledge of Allegiance policy to meet state statutes, approved 13 early graduation requests, approved a change to a High School English course to match Common Core standards, approved changes and revisions to the district's 403(b) and OPEB Investment plans, and approved to use donated funds to study the possible replacement of the PoolPaks at the Aquatic Center.

by Rusty Mehlberg

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