Green Bay school board passes three resolutions towards school realignment

Voters will be asked to fund a new building consolidating some west-side schools
Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 5:46 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 5, 2023 at 11:17 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Monday’s Green Bay Area Public Schools Board of Education meeting was a full house, as members of the board took up the 10-year Facilities Master Plan. That plan would move and close schools, construct a new building to consolidate some schools, and redraw boundary lines in order to make up for a large budget deficit and declining enrollment.

There has been pushback from people who feel there wasn’t adequate explanation or consideration for diverse families.

The board was presented with four resolutions to get started on the master plan. Three passed unanimously.

The first was an action to prepare a capital referendum, which would likely be put to voters in 2024, for building a new elementary school. It would be built on the site of Kennedy Elementary and consolidate several west-side schools.

The second action called for a third-party study on the community impact of the school closures that are recommended by the school board’s community task force. Another task force will evaluate the study and adjust school boundaries.

The third was to initiate planning to potentially close Wequiock Elementary School and move those students to Red Smith Community School. The board wants to see a plan by November 1.

The fourth resolution, to start planning to potentially close Tank Elementary was tabled.

School Board President Laura McCoy said these were not easy decisions to make. “I appreciate my fellow -- " she paused to compose herself -- “my fellow board members as we guide our community, and more specifically our children, through these needed changes. None of us wanted to be here. None of us.”

In detail, Vice President James Lyerly presented four resolutions to the board:

  1. Green Bay Area Public School District Board Resolution related to the facility master planning task force recommendations pertaining community impact of repurposing schools to 4K-8 facilities and proposed school boundary changes
    1. The Green Bay Area Public School District is directed to initiate all necessary activities required to prepare a proposed capital referendum question and present the resulting project list, capital requirements, and all other pertinent information on or before 11/1/23 such that the board can approve a capital referendum question as follows:
      1. build a new elementary school on the site of Kennedy Elementary School to enable, upon its completion, the district to consolidate the student populations of selected west-side elementary schools
      2. implement the recommended security upgrades at the following schools:
        1. Southwest High School
        2. Lombardi Middle School
        3. East High School
        4. Preble High School
        5. Edison Middle School
        6. Eisenhower Elementary School
        7. Wilder Elementary School
      3. modify West High School to:
        1. create an accessible district administration space to receive select district administration staff to effectuate the closure of the district office building, and/or
        2. create a distinct educational environment for the John Dewey Academy of Learning Charter School
      4. address timely priority facility issues as recommended by the Master Facility Planning Committee
  2. Green Bay Area Public School District Board Resolution related to the facility master planning task force recommendations pertaining to creating a referendum question
    1. The Green Bay Area Public School District is directed to initiate the necessary activities to assess the impact to community, educational pathways, and student safety of the proposed transition of Langlade Elementary School, McAuliffe Elementary School, and Franklin Middle School to 4K-8 facilities including all related investments and closing that enable the transition
      1. the goal of the assessment should ensure that:
        1. the comprehensive set of investments and divestments across the various communities are equitable;
        2. the boundary revisions associated with the proposed transition to 4K-8 facilities minimize change for students, families, and district operations, when possible;
        3. all Board approved educational pathways remain intact;
        4. the resulting school populations are equally or more diversly integrated than present populations; and
        5. transportation services are not negatively impacted
      2. the assessment activities should include but are not limited to:
        1. engaging a reputable 3rd party to study the community impact of the school closures and the subsequent relocation of student populations proposed by the Facilities Master Plan Task Force;
        2. organizing a task force representative of the impacted communities to evaluate the impact study and use findings to evolve the task force recommendations and adjust boundaries; and
        3. propose alternative locations for 4K-8 facility investment (e.g. Webster Elementary School, Washington Middle School)
        4. creating a transition plan for students impacted by changes to educational pathways
        5. propose locations that can be repurposed to offer services to students with disabilities who utilize the common core essential elements
      3. recommendations from the Facility Master Plan Task Force impacted by the transition of 4K-8 schools and subject to the aforementioned assessments include:
        1. closure of Elmore Elementary School
        2. closure of Beaumont Elementary School
        3. closure of Doty Elementary School
        4. closure of Washington Middle School
        5. modification of McAuliffe Elementary School
        6. modifications of Langlade Elementary School
        7. modification of Webster Elementary School
        8. Closure of Leonardo da Vinci School
        9. all associated boundary changes that redirect students to new schools based on the closures and modifications above
        10. all associated boundary changes that shift high school students west
  3. Green Bay Area Public School District Board Resolution related to the facility master planning task force recommendations pertaining to Wequiock Elementary School
    1. The Green Bay Area Public School District is directed to initiate planning activities, to effectuate the closing of Wequiock Elementary School, relocate that student population to Red Smith Community School (4K-8), and explore the viability of moving the environmental programming to Red Smith Community School (4K-8) for grades 4K-5 for the 2024-2025 school year and present the plan for board approval on or before November 1, 2023
      1. revising transportation plans to ensure safe and timely transit to and from school for all students by bus
      2. documenting the necessary boundary changes
      3. determining the feasibility of providing equivalent environmental education programming at Red Smith Community School (4K-8)
      4. creating a detailed list of non-referendum dependent projects and their capital requirements to address physical plant and educational adequacy concerns at Red Smith Community School (4K-8)
      5. documenting the necessary agreements with the city of Green Bay to ensure that students at Red Smith Community School can use the adjacent Red Smith city park for educational purposes
  4. Green Bay Area Public School District Board Resolution related to the facility master planning task force recommendations pertaining to Tank Elementary School

Following a four-hour-long meeting, the board of education unanimously passed three out of the four resolutions. The resolution regarding Tank Elementary School has been tabled.

The Facilities Master Plan includes several schools, along with building a new elementary school and changing the boundaries of other schools.

It’s a controversial plan, and at a meeting last month, many community members asked the board to delay the vote. Despite that, the board president said she expected the vote would happen.

A memo from interim Superintendent Vicki Bayer attached to the agenda for Monday’s meeting on the school board’s website says that a decision must be made by January -- so there is time if the vote is pushed back.

The recommendations in the master plan were made by a task force, and it’s an effort to deal with a $20 million budget shortfall.

The plan recommends closing or moving several schools, building a new elementary school; and changing some school boundaries:

  • Close or repurpose 12 buildings
  • New west-side elementary school
  • Three schools repurposed as 4K-8 grade: Franklin Langlade MacAuliffe
  • Minoka-Hill moves to Lincoln
  • Leonardo da Vinci moves to Webster
  • Move John Dewey Academy of Learning and a portion of District Office to West High School
  • Portion of District Office to another GBAPS building

District leaders say these changes are needed because of projections that there will be fewer students in the Green Bay Area Public School District in the future.

A closed meeting began at 4:30 p.m. followed by an open meeting at 5 p.m.

The Green Bay school board could vote Monday, June 5, on the district’s master plan for a major realignment.