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VIDEO | West Bend School District report on declining enrollment

October 29, 2019 – West Bend, WI – West Bend School District Superintendent Don Kirkegaard outlined enrollment trends during the Monday night School Board meeting. The district indicated “unless there is a change in enrollment trends, the district can expect declining enrollment for the next 8-10 years.”

Superintendent Kirkegaard:

  • Our enrollment has been going south. It has been for quite a few years and it’s going to go for quite a few more years.
  • We’re down about 600 students since 2006
  • There are about 60 kids that open enroll out of Jackson. Jackson area is the largest open enrolling out of the district.
  • Projections: I made an assumption that the kindergarten class would stay the same and every kid who is in school this year stays in school throughout their whole career.
  • If you go to the high school we’re at 2184 this year. If you look at current students in the school, I added 50 kids every year once they become 9th graders, based on Holy Angels and Cabrini, typically the last few years we picked up 50 parochial kids that come to high school. You’re down to 1669 students with both east and west together.
  • This isn’t doom and gloom, it’s just reality.


  • There are certain districts in the state of Wisconsin that are going up (with enrollment), much of Wisconsin is not and we’re part of that.
  • The reason for the decline is we don’t have as many kids coming through the system. Most people have two kids, one kid, three kids…
  • The second Friday in January there is another student count. Typically the January count is less than the September count.
  • The third Friday of September is the official count date for district enrollment. See first chart below.The second chart shows a 14-year comparison of actual students in seats at schools in the West Bend District.

WBSD enrollment data


Chart 5 shows a 9-year projection of enrollment based on current students in the district and a flat kindergarten enrollment based on 364 students.

On a side note: The West Bend School District Private Task Force studied the school district and its facility needs over the summer. It released a report of findings on October 14. One of the findings took into account the declining enrollment and loss of state aid.

Randy Stark – task force member: How do we take older inventory off line and replace it.


  • We could do nothing. Keep spending $1.5 mil a year on facilities
  • Retain all building and come up with money and address immediate capital needs however the design characteristics with concerns can’t be changed. Even if come up with $22.5 mil – we still have 80% of square footage is getting older.
  • Replace Jackson – in 25-year plan – solves some problems but only addresses one building.

“Perhaps a school in Jackson is no longer justified,” said Randy Stark from the Task Force.

  • Construct one new school (783 capacity) at a south side location and expand Green Tree. Close/sell Jackson School, Jackson land, Decorah, Fair Park, District Offices, Rolfs & Maintenance. Develop a single central campus on the south side of WB.

Doug Barnes from Zimmerman Architectural Studios – “Other school districts that have consolidated include New Berlin which has closed four schools and Beaver Dam has closed elementary schools and consolidated and Racine.”

Click HERE to read the full report.







School Board passes budget on 7-1 vote:

Also on Monday the School Board passed the 2019-2020 budget on a 6-1 vote. Board member Kurt Rebholz was the lone dissenting vote.

The motion read: Motion to proceed with decreasing the defeasance by approximately $800,000 for a total 2019-20 defeasance of $2.35M due to the increase in the private school voucher levy resulting in a 2019-20 district-wide levy of $41,977,315 translating to the same mill rate as was previously included at $7.97 per $1,000 of assessed value on average across all district municipalities and property owners. Further, motion for the final 2019-20 budget resulting in an all-fund budget of $99,180,543 in revenues and $96,646,585 in expenditures.

Question for discussion: If the district predicts the high school enrollment will drop to about 2,000 in the next three years and be down to 1,669 by 2028 would that be the time the community discusses moving to a single high school.

It was March 2015 when the School Board rolled out a four-step plan should the merging of the high schools ever be brought up for discussion.

Steps included a community task force and a non-binding referendum held during a gubernatorial or presidential election. Nowhere in the four-step plan was there any mention of enrollment numbers triggering a discussion.

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