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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Bay View Area Schools Task Force makes its final recommendations

by folkbum

I so rarely get to break news, but seeing as I was the only "reporter" (update: apparently Chris Terbrueggen of the Milwaukee Post was there) in the room tonight when they voted, I figure I may as well.

The Task Force, which I've written about for the Compass (no link; the archives are still in progress), was put in place to try to figure out a solution or two or three to some intractable problems with Bay View Schools, notably a declining student population (and the consequent overabundance of unused space) and a lack of neighborhood students in Bay View schools, particularly Bay View High School.

After a number of options were presented, two of the options were chosen by the Task Force. The first is to merge two schools, Tippecanoe School of the Arts and Humanities and Dover Street Elementary in the Dover building. Tippe is currently a K-8, but the combined program, according to the recommendation, would just be a K-5, expected to feed into Fritsche Middle School. The merger would happen starting in the 2009-2010 school year. It is projected eventually to save the district about $174,000 per year. That option was selected on 34 of 35 ballots submitted by Task Force members.

The second passing option was to expand Fritsche while at the same time phasing out the current program at Bay View High School. In 09-10, Fritsche will pick up a ninth grade class while BVHS takes no ninth graders. The following year, Fritsche adds tenth grade, and BVHS is left with just 11th and 12th. In 2011-2012, Fritsche's expanded program moves into the BVHS building, with a tiny BVHS group of seniors hanging on. By 2012-2013, there will be just one 6-12 program in the building BVHS currently occupies. This would eventually save the district about $411,000 annually, with the possible bonus following the sale or lease of the Fritsche building. This option was selected on 30 of 35 ballots.

Of course, this was step one of a longer process; the next step is that the recommendations go to the administration to be written up as an item to go before the Board of School Directors at some point in the next couple of months. Then the Board will do with it what the Board will do with it. So the options as voted by the Task Force are far from final, and will be up for additional public comment and input.

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