The (not-a-) plan to consolidate the Wausau School District
The Weekly Wausonian for Nov. 24, 2022
Wausau School District leaders are clear there is no plan when it comes to the idea of consolidation of the district’s schools.
They just have a clearly laid out set of ideas on how to go about it. But right, definitely not a plan.
District leaders unveiled those “plans” last week to a room full of staff, parents and students at the high school auditorium. The plan essentially creates large 4k centers, and puts a couple of higher grades in each school. So East would become grades 9-10, West would be for grades 11-12. Same for grades 5-6, and 7-8.
Nothing is set in stone, district leaders explain, and they’re still gathering feedback and will adjust the plans accordingly.
Why are they doing this? As The Wausonian has pointed out in the past, the district is losing students, and disproportionately from various schools. (So is the state, to be clear, but not at the rate Wausau is losing students.) Wausau East, for instance, is way under capacity.
That’s creating disparities in programs and opportunities, district leaders say.
But, closing schools (two scenarios, which either close two elementary schools or five) is being considered. That’s proven enormously unpopular. City Council member Lisa Rasmussen last week talked about the unpopularity of closing neighborhood schools, and referendums that included school closing plans have historically failed.
The Wausonian will continue following this storyline.
Thanks to everyone who has subscribed to The Wausonian! Our numbers keep growing and I’m starting to hear chatter around town about the publication - let’s keep it up! If you haven’t subscribed yet, why not check it out! Free and paid options available.
What else in Wausau?
Budget bonanza: The Wausau City Council passed its 2023 budget Tuesday, which included a 4.5% levy increase but a $0.70 per $1,000 drop in tax rate. City leaders say it was a modest increase in levy considering the high inflation the country has been experiencing. But the budget came after two failed budget amendments from Ald. Doug Diny. One would have held off any budget amendments next year during the first half of 2023; and a second would have added $129,000 for to fund an administrator starting in July. The meeting ended in what appeared to be a heated debate between Diny and City Council President Becky McElhaney.
Bus problems: District leaders and First Student folks got together over the weekend to try to fix problems with school busing. Routes have been either delayed or canceled this semester in response to an unusual shortage of bus drivers (worse in Wausau than nationwide, First Student says). District leaders say the solution arrived at over the weekend wasn’t perfect but definitely an improvement.
Expand the ski hill or not?: DNR officials released summaries of the input they received in response to the draft plan to revise Rib Mountain State Park. That includes a push by the Chamber-led Greater Wausau Prosperity Partnership to add 35 more acres to the ski area above the 100 already designated. Meanwhile, many residents told the DNR they wanted less area for the ski area because it would impact the Turkey Vulture/Homestead trails many hikers enjoy.
Around the metro
Flight goodbye: Central Wisconsin Airport will lose its flight to Detroit starting next month, CWA officials confirmed to The Wausonian. According to CWA Airport Manager Brian Grefe, Delta will increase the size of its two flights to Minneapolis, and will gain in capacity overall (slightly). But the loss of the Detroit route will still restrict travel options, as it connected to another international hub.
Becoming a village: Rib Mountain has submitted its application to become a village to the Department of Administration. The kicks off a 180-day review process that includes a town hall where Rib Mountain officials will need to sell the DOA on why they should become a village.
Town hall opening: Village officials hope to move the rest of the village staff into the new Weston Municipal Center on Camp Phillips by Dec. 16. The village hopes to have an open house in the spring, Village President Mark Maloney told The Wausonian.
Float pods coming to Wausau: A business called Modern Alternatives is planning to open soon in Schofield. The business is a holistic health center providing “Functional Medicine Nutrition consulting, biofeedback, supplement recommendations, PEMF mat, Halotherapy (salt room), and coming this spring, sauna and float pod.” The Wausonian doesn’t know what some of those things are, but that might end up being the first float pod service in the Wausau area.
Friday and beyond: The 17th season of the Winter Wonderland at Wildwood Park in Marshfield kicks off this Friday and let me tell you, it’s quite the visual feast! Drive through or better yet (really!) take a walk through the park and see this holiday lights extravaganza. It’s open 5-9 pm every day through Dec. 31 - but don’t wait too long or you’ll forget! See the Facebook page for more details.
Fri-Sat, Nov. 25-26: Something a little more tropical sounds pretty good right now, no? That’s what the Central Wisconsin Children’s Theater is bringing to the table with its production of Moana Jr. The musical (with a score by Lin-Manuel Miranda) follows the story of a young island girl as she follows her calling to the sea despite her parents’ wishes. Several showtimes, see the Facebook event page for more details.
Friday, Nov. 25: I always appreciate when I can see a show and be back home and in PJs at an early time! So thanks to The Garage for bringing excellent Wausau/Chicago musician Max Keopke in to play a set starting at 4 pm. He’s slated to play for four hours at The Garage, so come check him out and get back in time to gobble down a few Thanksgiving Day leftovers with time to Netflix and chill.
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: The Wisconsin Valley conference season kicks off Nov. 29 as Wausau West hosts Wisconsin Rapids at 7 pm.
Basketball: Girls basketball kicks off Dec. 6, and boys basketball kicks off Dec. 9.
Semi-pro hockey: The Wausau Cyclones (4-11-3) lost a pair of games to the Oregon Tradesmen last weekend. The Cyclones lost 8-4 on Nov. 18 and 5-1 on Nov. 19. The Cyclones will resume play on Friday and Saturday. Both games, against the Rochester Grizzlies (15-4-0), are at Marathon Park.
Coming this week
Next week your Wausonian editor will be in Dubai — I’m at a conference for two days. Last week I said that I wouldn’t have a Weekly Wausonian for you but hadn’t realized the full extent of the time difference — so the day after the conference I should be able to put something together. It’ll probably be shorter though.
But I also have a more difficult story I’ve been working on that I expect to release most likely in the next few days. Plus, our monthly open thread will come out before the month is out. It’s your chance to have your say on any topic The Wausonian has covered (or any other Wausau related item), regardless if you’re a free or paid subscriber (otherwise only paid subscribers have access to comments).
Meanwhile, Happy Thanksgiving!
Thanks for reading The Wausonian! If you’re not already subscribed, you can sign up for free to get this roundup sent to you every Thursday. Or, consider a paid subscription to get all The Wausonian’s content.
As always, please email tips or corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org or just reply to this email if you’re reading this in your inbox.