St. Francis parents meet about district referendum

NOW: St. Francis parents meet about district referendum

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ST. FRANCIS, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Some parents in the St. Francis school district want to be heard loud and clear ahead of a referendum up for a vote on April 2nd.

Voting yes would mean a big change in the district -- consolidating the only elementary and middle school. If the referendum passes there would only be Willow Glen school and a high school for the entire district.

"Talk to your neighbors before that vote on April 2nd because once it's gone it's gone forever and what do we do then?" said Kim Knaak, a parent of a 2nd grade and a K4 student.

Knaak hands a yard sign to another concerned parent. Knaack and the group of parents oppose the referendum. They started a Facebook page called "Vote NO - Save Deer Creek

"After reading the referendum question it's very tricky. So we realized it's 7.25 million dollars to close a school," said Knaak.

The restructuring is part of a long-range plan to manage funding among other things, but Knaak says the change would offer no educational benefits.

"There isn't any benefit to the education. It's cutting classrooms, increasing classroom sizes... and I have to advocate for my children," said Knaak.

The referendum proposes renovating Willow Glen, the elementary school, and closing Deer Creek, the intermediate school.

The school board president tells CBS 58, it's not a decision that was taken lightly. In a statement sent to the station, Bob Boknevitz said:

“The St. Francis School District engaged in an in-depth study of our facilities in late 2016/early 2017 to develop a new 10 Year Maintenance Plan for the District. As a result of this work, the Board formed a Facilities Study Committee in July 2017. The committee was tasked with reviewing the long-range maintenance plan and building configurations given limited funding and declining resident enrollment. After a community survey and a year of meeting and consideration, the Facilities Study Committee made a recommendation to the Board in July 2018 to consolidate K-8 educational programming onto the Willow Glen site to maximize educational programming and available resources. The Board then took an additional four months to consider additional questions before placing this community question on the ballot for April 2, 2019. Information reviewed as part of the study process is available at the District website at www.stfrancisschools.org/referendum."

"I announced my candidacy on Thursday," said Nicholas Banach.

Just this week, Banach decided to run as a write-in candidate in the same election because of the referendum issue.

"The school system we have we have is very strong. It's worth fighting for," said Banach. "The school board that's in place did a really good job up until now handling reduced funding and the reduced budget year after year... but the adjustment to growth isn't working as the city's working to grow. That's why I'm coming in now and haven't come in before."

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