On Monday night, the Neenah Joint School District held a meeting for the public to learn about three new proposals to close and renovate the city’s oldest school buildings to help keep up with student and teacher needs in today’s world.
Neenah’s oldest school building is an administration one, built in 1907, and the oldest school building is Roosevelt/Alliance, built in 1922. Neenah’s newest school building is Washington Elementary, which is 51 years old.
All three plans drafted by the school district and architects would involve renovating the buildings with millions of dollars being work done. The plans would also require some shuffling around of grade levels to different buildings. Two of the plans include closing some of the oldest school buildings permanently.
“We’re talking about buildings that we want to have last for 50 years, Sherry Boushele-Walter, a district parent, said. “So of course that requires a price tag to get that kind of quality.”
Another option is to construct a brand new school building, but that may not serve all the students and faculty in need of new facilities.
“We have to think about what’s best for our kids and we have to forward-think, and think where is education going, and it’s a lot different than it was when I was in this same building thirty years ago,” Steve Jung, a Neenah parent, teacher, and coach who is support of renovating the buildings. “I’m confident with our architects that they can make something that is very nice with old infrastructure.”
The school district also has to be careful about how much money is spent or borrowed, which could raise property taxes.
“We do have to be careful so that the taxes don’t go up too much because then the people that aren’t really buying into the school community and really into the culture of our school, they’re not going to have any part of raising their taxes,” Jung said.
While the plans are still being tweaked and talked about, even having a conversation about renovating or building schools is a step in the right direction, some parents said.
“I think having buildings that accommodate different learning styles that embrace people of all abilities those are some things that we have to adjust now, because our youngest building is fifty-some years old, so yeah it’s time to look at this across the board,” Boushele-Walter said.
The next meeting will be held on April 5th.