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Parents express concern as Neenah and Menasha elementary school closures loom

Posted at 5:56 PM, Feb 08, 2024

NEENAH AND MENASHA (NBC 26) — Neenah and Menasha school districts are looking to close two elementary schools this year. Some parents feel concerned and unheard.

  • Both Neenah and Menasha school boards will soon vote on closing certain elementary schools.
  • Both districts have closed other schools in recent years.
  • We talked to parents about how they feel about the potential changes.

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

Potential closures and other big shifts for Neenah and Menasha schools. I'm Olivia Acree reporting in Neenah and Menasha with reaction to the changes.

The neighboring districts have something in common this year: potential school closures. Amanda Rennert is a Neenah parent.

“This became our home,” said Rennert.

She moved to Neenah specifically for the reputation of schools. But recent changes are changing her mind.

“If we leave that would be why,” said Rennert.

Since starting kindergarten, her son had to change schools when Roosevelt closed. Now he attends Horace Mann.

“When there’s overcrowding like there already is, these problems are only going to get worse,” said Rennert.

The district is now considering closing Hoover Elementary, and students would feed into Horace Mann. A district spokesperson says this decision and plans to change some school boundaries are a result of population changes in the city.

Rennert doesn’t feel like her concerns are being heard and wonders how it will affect her son’s school.

“I think we’re all wondering the same thing,” said Rennert.

Menasha parent Rachael Ciske has similar concerns in her neighborhood, where the district may close Jefferson Elementary.

“Three generations of my family have gone here. It's devastating to the neighborhood,” said Ciske.

Just like Rennert's son, Ciske's kids have attended multiple elementary schools due to closures.

“That potential of it closing and not knowing what is going to happen to it is scary,” said Ciske.

She also worries about losing good staff and class sizes.

Menasha superintendent Matt Zimmerman told me there will be a $3.5 million budget deficit next year.

He estimates closing Jefferson would make up $1 million of those dollars but the district is still figuring out where it will come up with the rest of the money.

These moms say they hope their concerns are heard before final decisions are made.

The Neenah school board is set to vote on the changes on February 20th and Menasha school board is set to do the same on the 26th.