Clarifying the confusion: Wausau School District responds to Monday’s restructuring decision

The Board voted 5-4 to not move forward with its restructuring plan for the Wausau East and West High Schools to merge
Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 6:14 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - There are still lots of questions about the future of the Wausau School District. Questions that not many have answers to right now.

Last night, the school board voted not to go forward with the district’s restructuring plan. Meaning there will be no merger of the high schools or middle schools. Instead, board member Pat McKee presented a new plan to the board.

Each side believes their plans will work best for the district, but both do agree to continue having conversations and to think about who really matters - the students. Some members of the board were never on board with the restructuring plan in the first place, including Pat McKee. However, it wasn’t his idea to come up with something new.

“Feedback that the board was getting that I think really allowed a more commons sense approach to prevail,” McKee said. The parents and the students, they are one’s who really changed this plan.”

This is what McKee is offering.

“Let’s define our goals specifically,” he said. “What is it that we are trying to accomplish across the district? Then let’s look at multiple solutions. Not just the one merging the secondary schools, let’s look at multiple solutions that will allow us to achieve those goals.”

Even though this isn’t what WSD Superintendent Dr. Keith Hilts wants, he’s ready to start on other projects.

“We have a number of curriculum teams. The teachers have contributed to that work already so that work is going to continue,” Hilts said. “So we are hoping by late winter, early spring we are going to have a 6-12 scoping sequence.”

As for the construction that is currently going on, that work is still going to get done even with this new plan set.

“$60 million or more of work that needs to be done at our elementary schools,” Hilts added. “Everything from lighting to heating to plumbing, windows to whatever that work is still there.”

The Wausau School District sent out an email to parents and staff letting them know of the new plans.

In it, Hilts shared:

“Wausau East and Wausau West High Schools will continue to serve students in grades 9-12 as two separate high schools. Horace Mann and John Muir Middle Schools will continue to serve students in grades 6-8.

However, the Board has expressed interest in improving parity between the secondary schools. Keep elementary schools K-5, but continue to assess the current footprint to determine solutions for decreasing the amount of square footage that the district is managing for elementary education.”

He also said several questions will need clarification in the coming weeks and months including:

  • Will the Wausau Area Montessori Charter School be housed at the Lincoln Elementary site?
  • How will a plan to restructure our elementary footprint be developed and what is the timeline for that?
  • Will the work to partner with the YMCA to develop a childcare program in a district site continue?

Hilts and the district said they are aware there are a lot of questions surrounding this topic and what the next steps will be. Hilts still believes a merger of all secondary schools is what’s best for the district.

The district has launched an online survey for parents to use to provide feedback to the district.