Salem to discuss school consolidation in January


Bigger can be better-that theory was discussed Tuesday night as school officials explored the benefits of combining Salem Grade School with one or more grade schools in Kenosha County.

After discussion, the school board agreed to invite school boards from Wheatland, Bristol and the surrounding areas to a meeting in January to discuss consolidation.

Salem Grade School has approximately 1066 students. If the school were able to combine resources with either the 424-student Wheatland Center or 624-student Bristol Elementary, it might ease the financial burden on a single school.

Earlier in the school year, District Administrator David Milz discussed the possibility with Wheatland interim District Administrator Conrad Chaffee. In consolidation, two or more districts become one body; and would require the approval of voters in each of the original school districts.

“The reason I talked with Connie Chaffee in Wheatland is because that district is one that talked of consolidation before,” he said. “We can’t be sure if it makes sense financially unless discussed. And only through discussion can we decide whether it not only makes sense financially, but educationally.”

Advocates of consolidation believe that a larger grade school would mean more subjects and a broader spectrum of extracurricular activities, especially with nearly every district feeling the effects of the current economic downturn.

If a community decided to create a Consolidated School District, some administrative roles may be combined to reduce spending. For example, a consolidated district may have a superintendent and a regional school board for the management of the schools.

While some districts might think that consolidation is a panacea for school funding issues, Milz is not convinced until further exploration and discussions take place.

“We would have to see if there is administrative money available to make this an incentive,” he said. “Either way, it can’t hurt to talk about it.”


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