January 27, 2022 – Kewaskum, WI – The Kewaskum School Board voted 5-2 during a special session Thursday night, January 27, 2022, to close i4Learning Community School in the Town of Wayne at the end of the current school year.
Sue Miller and Tim Ramthun were the two dissenting votes.
Those voting the close the school: Ric Leitheiser, Dennis Aupperle, Jim Leister, Stephanie Bird and Bradley Petersen.
The motion to close the school was made by Stephanie Bird and seconded by Bradley Petersen.
About 50 people attended the meeting in the Kewaskum High School Library.
i4Learning Community School is a cozy school that includes grades 1st through 5th in the Town of Wayne. The school used to be called Wayne Elementary. At one time it was a Charter School. The building capacity is 175 students. Current enrollment is about 100 students.
Prior to the vote, District Administrator Mark Bazata gave a PowerPoint presentation with data on projected enrollment, school capacity and budget.
Some of the discussion by the board:
Sue Miller – “I feel timing is still off. The people impacted most are the students. I don’t like disruption in education. Let’s look at it again 3-5 years out. Wayne is a neighborhood. When you see a high-performing school performing… why change that?”
Ric Leitheiser- “My role is to do what is right for the district and, with respect, that may not be what will be right for an individual person or family. At the end of the day, people will transition. I sympathize with the challenges. I think of district as a whole and what makes the most sense. Our schools are underutilized. We have a lot of capacity. All families are trying to make plans for future and to delay it doesn’t make sense.”
Dennis Aupperle– “The performance is excellent, and enrollment may go up over the next 10 years, but to push this off… it is not fair to residents, parents and kids. It is just time to make a decision.”
Tim Ramthun – “I have a deep passion for quality service and a deep appreciation for community. This kind of question has a tendency to affect the fabric of community. I agree $300,000+ a year is a lot of money to perhaps have to force into a budget every year however, as a board I don’t think we have tightened the belt enough on how we spend money. I see a residual effect of closing a high-functioning school …. when we haven’t exhausted all our budgeting options.”
Stephanie Bird – “28 years ago this district was in this same position. I feel this is just a snowball. 20 fifth graders are moving on at the end of this year, so then it is even less out there if we don’t put a first grade or kindergarten out there. The kids out there aren’t getting the diversity or the inclusion; there are just not a lot of kids. There is so much more to coming in and getting additional kids. They play sports together already and they may transition easier because of that.”
Bradley Petersen – “We all share the passion and love we have for this community. This has tore our community apart for years and we need to make a decision. I need to look at the facts. It is apparent to me there is one right answer. We are not losing any key components from our educators; we are not losing anything significant. There are emotions attached to the district and this is a tough decision but there is an answer we need to grasp.”
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The board will decide what to with the property at a later date. Students will be brought into the remaining schools, Kewaskum Elementary School and Farmington Elementary.
Attempts were made after the meeting to talk to parents and staff, however parents refused comment and staff had left the building.
Below are some of the comments from Washington County Insider on social media.
I don’t even know how I’m going to tell the boys. There are lots of small positives for them, new cool playground, gaga ball pit, and all 3 kids at the same school for a year, but also so much unknown about who will be in their class, bigger environment…Abby Watzlawick focus on the positives for sure. Remind them that they can do hard things. It will be fine.
Remember Beechwood…classes too small ? Home schooling?? Money saving ??? Parochial schools?SUCH a bummer! Our youngest will not be happy. Neither are we!! How many people on the school board here even have kids in the Kewaskum school district?!? I heard only one…figures.
This is a working story and more information will be added as details become available.