GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – On Monday night, Green Bay Area Public School officials offered a clearer timeline on when they will make key decisions in their facilities master plan project.
The project calls for downsizing the school district to address declining enrollment and a projected budget deficit coming in the next few years. Shuttering or repurposing schools is on the table, but the project would improve existing facilities throughout the district. Updating facilities is another major goal of the project.
“While change is hard, I think there’s an opportunity to have every student and family affected go into a better situation from a facilities perspective,” said Josh Patchak who is the chief of operations for the Green Bay Area Public School District.
On May 8, the community task force will present the Board of Education its downsizing plan. The district will host two roundtable information sessions over the next two days to get community feedback. On May 24, they will host a listening session. After all of this, the Board of Education will vote on whether to implement the plan recommended by the community task force.
A community task force partnered with ATSR Planners, Architects, and Engineers to develop nine possible plans that could get chosen. District officials tell Local Five News that they could come up with additional plans between now and May 8.
You can find a much more detailed outline of what each plan entails here.
Although nothing is set in stone right now, over a dozen of the district’s schools would close as part of one or more of the plans. Patchak said several schools including Green Bay West High School are half empty which makes running the school district efficiently challenging.
Many community members have concerns.
“There would be a loss of community, you would lose a lot of connections to faculty to each other as alumni for folks who don’t live in the area anymore,” said Hannah Malmberg who said she’s an alumni of Green Bay West High School and currently works with students there.
She said most students at West High School live very close and getting busing for them to attend a different school would be a challenge. She also said she thinks that losing the option to walk to and from school would create a barrier for some kids to be able to participate in extracurricular activities because they’d have to follow a set bus schedule.
“I would ask them (district officials making the decisions) to talk to teachers, family, and students to hear about the impact it would have on them personally,” said Malmberg. “There’s a lot of consequences that could happen from these decisions and I think talking to the stakeholders would make a big difference.”
At a school board meeting on Monday night, several parents from Wequiock Elementary School expressed their concern that their school appeared on several of the plans as one that would close down.
“You will be stripping away so many irreplaceable learning opportunities for our children, you should be looking at ways to advertise our schools,” said Kate Janiak speaking in reference to Wequiock Elementary School.
“One of the largest reasons we picked the town of Scott was because of Wequiock, it’s a phenomenal school and our kids are thriving,” said Marcus Medina.
After the Board of Education chooses which plan to move forward with, school district officials said next school year will be a planning year for them before things start to get implemented during the 2024-2025 school.
“This is something that is sorely needed for the viability of the district,” said Patchak.
For more information on the Green Bay Area Public School District’s facilities master plan, please click here.