Antigo school district referendum slated for Tues. - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Antigo school district referendum slated for Tues.

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ANTIGO (WAOW) -- Voters in the Antigo School District are facing a decision. A special election will ask for millions of dollars for a new consolidated elementary school.

The district's plan calls for bringing all students to class within the city limits. Voters will decide whether students will all start going to one new elementary school or split into three of the existing buildings, since the district leaders said rural schools will be closing either way.

540 square miles -- that's how much ground Antigo School District buses cover on their daily routes. With declining enrollment and less revenue, district administrator Roxann Bornemann said cuts need to be made.

"We've already closed schools. We've already cut programs. We've cut over 68 staff since 2004," said Bornemann. "We can't continue to keep buildings open for the sake of keeping them open."

Voters will decide whether they want to support a $24 million venture -- a consolidated elementary school. With that plan, students in rural areas would be bussed in to town for class. The district put a similar measure on the ballot in 2006. It failed. But this year's vote will be different. Regardless of whether the referendum passes, school board members have already decided to close the four rural elementary schools by 2013.

"They love those schools," said school board member Joe Kretz. "There's nothing wrong with those schools. The kids get a good education out of those schools but as a board member we have to represent the entire district. Economically, they're just to inefficient to run."

"They're trying to get rid of teachers," said Tracey Brown, who lives in Antigo. "The education's getting less funding."

Some people in the area said students will miss out on opportunities in bigger schools.

"I think adding more children into the system would be a big mistake because they're not going to get the education they'd get in a smaller class size," said Brown.

If the referendum fails, district officials said students from kindergarten through third grade will be split into the three remaining elementary schools. The middle school would need to be adapted for fourth through seventh graders. Eighth graders would become the newest high school students. And either way, bus routes will be consolidated -- with drivers making one trip, instead of two, for students in grades K through 12.

Anyone who lives within the Antigo School District boundaries can vote in Tuesday's special election. For more information about the referendum, you can click on this link.

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