Mequon-Thiensville School Board not likely to change facilities
Options present lower savings; focus is on maintenance
Mequon - After reviewing seven different options for facilities reconfigurations at a working meeting Monday, district officials and School Board members indicated that it would be the best course of action to keep facilities as they are and invest in maintenance.
The seven options, as presented by Project Executive Nicholas Kent of Plunkett Raysich Architects, were the result of a facilities study commissioned by the School Board earlier this year which sought to find potential savings in reconfigurations of the district. Option one, which the board favored, provides no reconfiguration and instead details maintenance projects the district will need to address in the next one to two years, and comes with a price tag of approximately $2.6 million.
Board members and officials expressed concern over how the district would fund the other options, and whether the annual savings coming from those potential changes would be worth such costs.
"I believe that the seven options are telling you there are no savings," Superintendent Demond Means told the board. "My recommendation is that your only option is option one."
Declining enrollment, capacity
The reconfiguration options are aimed at finding an appropriate use of the district's facilities based on current and projected enrollment. Currently, the elementary schools together are operating approximately 6 percent over capacity, the middle schools approximately 18 percent under capacity - though the middle school maximum teacher to student ratio is 31-to-1, an above average figure that pushes up the middle schools' theoretical capacities - and the high school approximately 24 percent under capacity. Enrollment projections through 2020-21 show enrollment continuing to decline across the elementary schools, middle schools and high school, with the elementary schools beginning to operate under capacity in the next three years.
The options presented to the School Board differed in how they would address those capacity issues, but many included consolidations of different schools around the district as well as school closings. Four of the seven options proposed selling or closing Lake Shore Middle School and Range Line Elementary, and some proposed additional closings and sales around the district.
The least expensive option, next to option one, would cost the district approximately $6.3 million and would create approximately $125,000 in annual operational savings by closing or selling Lake Shore Middle School and Range Line Elementary, moving eighth-graders to Homestead High School.
The most expensive option, which would move seventh and eighth grade to Homestead High School, build a new K-6 building, move sixth grade to Oriole Lane Elementary, Donges Bay Elementary and the new school, and would sell or close Lake Shore Middle School, Range Line Elementary, Steffen Middle School and Wilson Elementary, would cost approximately $39.6 million and would save the district approximately $188,000 annually.
Savings less than expected
Board members said the projected annual savings were less than they expected when they commissioned the study earlier this year.
"We thought we were going to have some savings," board member Mary Cyrier said, "but that's not the case."
Consensus was that by not making any reconfigurations at this time, the district would have the most flexibility going forward with regard to its facilities and financials. There will be another facilities study in the future, tentatively planned for the next two or three years and paired with the district's demographic report, to re-evaluate whether the district should reconfigure the use of its facilities. The School Board is expected to take formal action on the options presented at its regular meeting July 16.
WHAT:Mequon-Thiensville School Board regular meeting where the board is expected to decide its facilities plan
WHEN: 7 p.m. July 16
WHERE: Egelhoff Community Room, Homestead High School, 5000 W. Mequon Road
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