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De Pere school boundaries could be redrawn by 2020-21

By Ben Rodgers

DE PERE – With housing developments poised to add families to the district, the De Pere school board is evaluating an approach to stay proactive by shifting elementary school boundaries.

At the Monday, Aug. 19, school board meeting, the board heard from the District Boundary Committee, which presented multiple options to shift boundaries to the board.

“In each case, what we were looking at is you’re considering a trajectory where each of the elementary schools will be phasing out some open enrollment students, with open enrollment being reduced and closed this coming year,” said Andy Bradford, committee member and principal of Foxview Intermediate School. “There’s an impact that happens, but it doesn’t happen right away, because those students track through that K-4 age range and grade range. So we had to look at and consider current open enrollment students at each of the three buildings, and we’re also looking at, to the best of our ability, what that future development could possibly bring.”

Any changes to enrollment boundaries would take place for the 2020-21 school year.

When the options were created, the committee looked at new development, which continues in Ledgeview, traffic patterns, enrollment and current neighborhoods.

“In a perfect world, which doesn’t exist, we would layer in kids coming in from new developments to balance in kids phasing out for open enrollment, and balance the buildings,” said Rob Lennon, retired director of pupil services and committee member.

The option the committee recommended would show Dickinson Elementary School with a projected enrollment with new developments of 427 students. Heritage would have 544 students and Altmayer would have 502.

“For whatever reason, Heritage has the most open enrollment (students) and Altmayer has very few,” Lennon said. “When you think about those kids working their way through and phasing out, when you look at the current enrollment and open enrollment numbers, it became really clear what we were trying to do was shift kids out of Altmayer and into Heritage.”

The major change for the recommended option is shifting students from east of Bower Creek from Altmayer to Heritage and students from Hoffman Road, south of State Highway 172, from Heritage to Dickinson.

“Obviously, the development opportunities within the City of De Pere are limited, however, what you have to remember – Ashwaubenon is in this same boat – is there are a lot of people that are retired that live in the same home, and as they move out, other families will move in,” said Superintendent Ben Villarruel. “We’re not capping enrollment, we’re trying to manage enrollment.”

Villarruel said there would be a few conditions to the proposed plan, depending on available space.

The first is any students who attend an elementary school would be allowed to stay in their elementary school.

The second is any siblings of students allowed to attend an elementary school could also stay in that school.

Finally, transportation for students attending an elementary school outside of the enrollment boundaries would be the responsibility of the parents.

“We’ll have this on the agenda again, talk about the transition plan and also the timeline,” Villarruel said. “There’s a lot of material here. We’ll go back into committee and review it.”

In other news, the board heard a budget update during a public hearing from Dawn Foeller, business manager.

Dawn Foeller

“The estimated overall tax rate of $8.49 (per $1,000 of equalized value) is a decrease from 2018-19 of $1.05 or 11.01 percent,” Foeller said. “We have estimated our equalized value will increase by 2 percent. However, this will change once the district receives its equalized value due out from the Department of Revenue by Oct. 15.”

Foeller attributed the decrease to a significant decline in the district’s debt service fund, from $6.3 million to $3.9 million, or a 38 percent decrease.

She also attributed an additional $88 per student from the State of Wisconsin and an increase in the revenue cap of $175 per student as part of Gov. Tony Evers’ budget.

Before the final district budget is brought before the board in October, some variables that could change figures are an increased equalization, which would decrease the mill rate even more, general state aid being certified, the September pupil count and any grants.

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