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Manitowoc eyes a plan that could consolidate schools; a look inside the board room

Posted at 11:01 PM, Jun 25, 2024

MANITOWOC (NBC 26) — A special board meeting in Manitowoc discusses the future of the district and their buildings. Here’s the latest from the board room and the plans for millions of dollars and thousands of kids.

  • After an audit found Manitowoc school buildings were in urgent need, the board was presented with a 20 year plan.
  • The plan would cost $450 million and may consolidate some schools.
  • Board President, Chris Able says they still need to hear feedback from the community.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Does the Manitowoc Public School District need to consolidate?

That was the question at Tuesday night's Manitowoc School Board meeting. The discussion comes after an audit found the school's buildings are in urgent need.

"A lot of the buildings are not what we would call 21st century ready from an education delivery standpoint,” said a researcher. "The deterioration of the buildings is just going to accelerate."

The board was presented with an in-depth 20-year plan for the district's buildings. The total cost of more than $450 million dollars.

"I mean this is probably the biggest project that we could possibly take on,” said board member, Kerry Trask.

If it is to be put in action, a part of the plan could be to consolidate some elementary schools and/or the middle schools.

Although there was some support, the plan was met with mixed reviews.

"We've decided what to do without taking any input from the public and that is wrong,” said board member Biff Hansen.

A concern that board president Chris Able takes very seriously.

"We have a little time,” Able said. “But what's critical is that we hear from the public and what they are looking for the schools to do."

Able says a consolidation would be due to declining enrollment, more efficient use of buildings and student opportunities, as well as financial savings.

But, he says there is still more concerns in consolidation.

"Manitowoc has historically been a neighborhood school district,” says Able. "If we go to fewer larger schools, that means we are going to be bussing more kids."

Able says for each school consolidated the district will save $1 million per year in operations costs alone. He says the plan and future of the schools will absolutely be on the docket for next month's meeting.