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Task force to recommend new high school campus for De Pere school district

Proposed new De Pere High would stand between current high school building and Dickinson Elementary
Posted at 3:07 PM, Sep 21, 2023

DE PERE (NBC 26) — NBC 26 has learned that a recommendation to build a new high school campus is in the works on De Pere's east side.

The Unified School District of De Pere's Citizens Facilities Task Force will make a formal recommendation to the Board of Education to build a new high school at Monday's board meeting, Superintendent Christopher Thompson said Thursday.

The Task Force will recommend the new high school be built on the green space between the current De Pere High School campus and Dickinson Elementary — land the district already owns.

Thompson said high enrollment was the primary reason for the recommendation.

"We're growing by about 100 students every year right now," Thompson said. "But we're now at the point where we're tapped out for space. The high school is going to be at its capacity within under 40 students now. And it's a very tight capacity."

The goal for the potential new facility would be a campus that could fit 1,800 students, with the possibility of expanding to house 2,000 students.

If a new high school is constructed, Thomspon said, the current De Pere High School campus would become De Pere Middle School, while De Pere Middle School would become a second intermediate school for the district. One baseball field would need to be relocated to make space for the potential new high school.

"If we place it on the other side of the current high school in that green space area, we can take advantage of all of this, and just be creating a greater instructional campus for the school district," Thompson said.

The Citizens Facilities Task Force is a volunteer group that analyzed the district's 2033 Strategic Plan, facilities analysis reports, open enrollment data and district financial data to make an informed recommendation to the board.

Thompson said the cost to the taxpayer would be a $3 increase to the school district's mill rate — meaning an additional $3 per $1000 of assessed property value. The Unified School District of De Pere's current mill rate is 5.49, Thompson said.

"Whenever you may go to Bay Port, or the new Neenah High School, or even looking at the renovations that were done to Menasha High School … when you think about all these facilities, we're just knowing that this is an opportunity for the students in the Unified School District of De Pere to have that same experience, have that same opportunity," Thompson said.

Voters would have to approve a capital referendum to build the new campus. Thompson said the district is targeting the November 2024 election as the time for the referendum.

The current De Pere High School was built in 1978, Thompson said.