School restructuring, with a twist | Weekly Wausonian
Wausau news for Feb. 16, 2023
The Wausau School Board at the end of a nearly five-hour meeting approved the school administration’s restructuring plan, but with a twist: Referendum money will not be used to pay for an addition onto West.
That decision was made because people didn’t feel it was fair to use money voters had approved for security and other enhancements to go toward a consolidation plan instead.
The plan creates two day cares (early education centers), eight kindergarten through fourth grade schools (closing five elementary schools), one school for grades 5-7, one for 8-9 (at Wausau East) and one for 10-12 (at West).
Administrators and some school board members pushed for the consolidation because of declining enrollments, which coincides with declining revenues. That combined with unequal access between students at East and West and the difficulty of spreading staff amongst so many buildings round out the administration’s reasons why they want the consolidation.
Many criticized leadership for springing the plan on them. While district officials had been holding meetings talking about the idea in concept, a specific proposal only emerged three weeks ago, and was already up for a vote that night. The school board held off on a decision, wanting more info first.
Before voting, they learned that transportation for the new plan will cost $400,000 more and likely require seven to 10 new buses. They also learned a staggered approach to the changes is possible. Now, some city council members get getting calls from residents wanting to know how this plan can be stopped.
Read the full breakdown of the plan here:
Subscribers this week also read about a campaign finance complaint filed against three current Wausau School Board members:
What else in Wausau?
Marathon Park update: The County Board could soon approve a new master plan for the county’s westside facilities, primarily at Marathon Park. Projects include a new splash pad, an expanded train, a new or renovated Marathon Junction building, a new year-round skating ribbon (ice in winter, pavement in summer), bigger Midway for the fair, and a new disc golf course among many other things. The county’s parks commission would prioritize the projects once the county board approves the plan.
Downtown construction season: Work on Wausau’s downtown streets could start in March, city consultants say. Work on streets in the former mall area is expected to start next month in anticipation of the first apartment project construction beginning in the fall and the opening of the Children’s Imaginarium in October. Work on Washington Street, which would turn it into a two-way street, would start the following year. Consultants say they intend to avoid construction during downtown events such as Dining on the Street.
Night market: The Wausau River District says it’s planning a new Night Market downtown this summer. Markets with local goods and vendors is planned for June 15, July 20 and Aug. 17, River Distrit officials say. The market will be set up in the City Square plaza (kitty corner the 400 Block) and there will also be local musicians and sidewalk cafes downtown.
Shooting arrest: Police arrested 43-year-old Brian Penney Wednesday morning after investigating complaints of shots being fired earlier that morning in the 700 Block of Forest Street. Police say a caller dialed 911 and told officers Penny was in the residence drunk with a handgun and had fired some shots. Police spoke to Penny on the phone and he was arrested when he exited the home without further incident. Penny is currently in Marathon County Jail.
Clarification: Last week we said that WOZ and Greater Wausau Prosperity Partnership unveiled plans for the south riverfront. Reader, we were not correct. The city itself revealed those plans for the south riverfront, after hiring a consultant to study the area.
Around the metro
Mediation program working: A court mediation program started five years ago to keep small civil cases off the books is going well, its founders say. Founder Randy Westgate says in 2022, the mediation program kept 80% of its 252 cases from going to court. That frees the backlogged court system to focus on criminal cases. The mediation program saves low-income defendants money in attorney fees and has prevented a number of evictions.
Polish though?: Rodzina, the Polish restaurant going into the former Garden Pancakes/Perkins building, released its menu last week and opened Wednesday for takeout only. Despite emphasizing the Polish name, very little appears to be Polish food on its menu. (Yep, we were hoping for pierogis.) See the restaurant’s Facebook page for more.
Photo, art: A new photography gallery has opened in the
Washington Square building sorry, Third Street Lifestyle Center. Photographic Art by Dennis opened earlier this month, open Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons in the downtown building.
Friday, Feb. 17: Ok, it’s a Valentine’s Day hike that’s not on Valentine’s Day, but hey, the weather was like 50 degrees amd raining outside Tuesday. What are ya gonna do? So Friday is your chance! Walk around the path lit by candles at the Monk Gardens grounds, and grab some hot cocoa by the fire afterward. Can’t get a sitter? Well, the grounds happen to have a yurt already used for its school, so their experienced staff can watch the kiddos while you hike. Also, leashed dogs are welcome to. $10 per adult, $5 members, snowshoe rental $2 if you don’t have your own (but you can hike without them too). Find out more on the event page.
Saturday, Feb. 18: If you missed the Blueheels last Saturday (the place was packed so many of you got the message) and are craving a loud show, The Mish has you covered! Come see punk bands CASHED, Wilted and Toyboxes rock the downtown joint. So put on your denim jacket with the spikes sticking out and straight out your mohawk, and head down there. 9 pm. See more on the event page.
Sunday, Feb. 19: Ever see that weird game on ice with the big stones and the brooms and say, hey, that looks like a lot of fun? Well, now’s your chance. The Wausau Curling Club will host their annual learn to curl event this Sunday. Pre-register for this event, which is $10 and gives you curling lessons and a tour of the facility. Non-Olympic years are good times to start to learn the sport because during Olympic years they get inundated with new players inspired by the games on TV. Find details and registration on their event page.
Looking for kids/family events? Check out the family-oriented listing from The Wausonian’s partner Wausau Mama, who puts together a weekly listing of children/family activities.
Boys hockey: Wausau West is already out of the WIAA playoffs. The Warriors lost to Marshfield Columbus Catholic 2-0 on Tuesday in the first round of tournament plan. D.C. Everest also lost in the first round to Eau Claire North Tuesday 7-2. SPASH will take on Eau Claire North next after earning a first-round bye.
Girls hockey: The Central Wisconsin Storm’s winning streak finally came to an end with a 5-0 loss to Bay Area at home Thursday. The Storm will take on Northland Pines at home today (Thursday) in the first round of the WIAA playoffs.
Boys basketball: SPASH handed first-place Marshfield its first loss of the conference season, putting SPASH tied with D.C Everest in second place in the Wisconsin Valley Conference. The Evergreens beat Wausau West 76-55 Thursday to hold on to second place. D.C. Everest heads to Merrill on Friday.
Girls basketball: Wausau West defeated crosstown rival Wausau East 67-44 Friday, but the Warriors remain in third place in the Valley conference. The Warriors head to second-place Marshfield Thursday to cap off the regular season.
Girls volleyball: Wausau West has a new volleyball coach. The district hired Jess Huggenvik, a West alum who helped the ‘00 Warriors make it to the state tournament. Huggenvik played club and college volleyball and comes with 12 years coaching USA club volleyball.
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