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The Wisconsin Dells School Board will have to decide where to house eighth-grade for the 2019-2020 school year.

The board will consider whether to continue to have them in the high school or to return them to Spring Hill School either next year or in the 2019-2020 school year.

Hugh Gaston, Wisconsin Dells High School principal, on Nov. 27 presented the school board with enrollment projections for the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 and how building spaces are used. The high school enrollment will grow to 600 students in 2018-2019, while Spring Hill Elementary and Middle will have 840 students or one more than this year. Lake Delton will have 219 students and Neenah Creek will have 97.

Superintendent Terry Slack in his report to the board said the projected enrollment figures “do not take into consideration what the enrollments may actually end up being for 4K and kindergarten classes next year.” He noted that the district has turnover of about 150 students coming in and going out of the district each year.

Slack said the high school will have 182 freshmen next year, the largest class it has had in a number of years, bringing enrollment at the high school to 600. In the 2019 – 2020 school year, high school enrollment is expected to hit 662. The 2018-2019 school year is not as “dire” as the 2019-2020 school year.

The district could move the eight-grade back to Spring Hill School, but two more English language learning classes have been added to Spring Hill bringing its total English language learning classes to three. Science Technology Engineer and Math (STEM) classes have been able to have their own classes there, Gaston said. If the eighth-grade were moved back, the classrooms for them would have to “scattered around the building, he said. “Can we get them in? Yes,” Gaston said. Should the district move the eighth grade? “It’s a judgment call,” he concluded.

At the high school every room will be used, and “some hours will be more contentious,” Gaston said. He also noted that a family and consumer science class could be dropped but 80 to 90 students have signed up for it. Social studies classes are overloaded as are biology classes, he said. The automotive shop at the high school is being used for STEM classes with computers and other equipment added their.

Gaston told the Events that the STEM space is in use every day.

The conversation will be different in 2019-2020, Gaston said, if there is not another option.

Board member Joey Van Dinter said locker rooms and showers are not being used at Spring Hill.

However, Spring Hill Principal Julie Ennis said the locker rooms are being used, and the shower spaces are being used for storage.

The showers at Spring Hill have a problem with hot water that goes back to 1999, Gaston said.

“These issues get people worked up, said Slack. The high school building was not designed to be both a high school and middle school, and “environment matters for students and teachers,” he said.

Board member Jennifer Gavinski said she can’t believe that the high school has chemistry taught in a classroom without sinks in the laboratory benches. “It’s archaic.”

Teaching with materials on carts, which would happen at the high school, is not a good idea, said Board President Kathy Anderson.

Van Dinter also said the schools need to expand STEM classes.

Gaston said some hallways can be used, he said. “We can make do. We have challenges to make it work, but it would be nice to have more options.”

The district needs either a new high school or a new elementary school, Gaston told the Events in a telephone interview. Noting he was from the Dells and worked at the high school, he said he favored a new high school. However, he said it was not his decision. “Let the community decide.”

“We have a need for multiple projects,” said Slack at the board meeting, “but we are not able to take on more than one.”

The board took no action on the issue.

In other action, the board did the following:

  • Reviewed the sample naming policy for the district. The policy would allow the district to name facilities in recognition of a person or in consideration of a donation. The naming rights in recognition would be of a person who has made “a significant contribution to the school district, community, area, state or county that the District wishes to honor.” The naming rights are at the discretion of the school board and can be terminated. The naming for contributions would be to recognize a “generous financial or other contributions,” and “not rendered in consideration for naming rights.” Naming rights could be granted for auditorium/theaters, gymnasiums, libraries, gardens/walks, athletic fields/facilities, concessions/locker rooms, streets and areas, equipment, building properties. The school board will decide the monetary value of the naming rights.
  • Added choir as a new activity at the request of choir director Katie James. The activities would beyond the classroom program and could include a show choir, vocal jazz ensembles, musical ensembles and field trips.
  • Approved extra-curricular contracts for the following: Rhonda Richlen, leadership; Meghan Mack, eighth-grade girls’ basketball head coach; Jessica Parry, seventh-grade girls’ basketball head coach; Alex Mor, head JV wrestling coach; Chris Paukner, middle school head wrestling coach; Jacob Volkey, middle school assistant coach; and Eric Torkelson, volunteer wrestling coach.
  • Heard from Athletic Director Aaron Mack that he is trying to form a middle school girls golf conference and to move girls golf to the fall.