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Palmyra-Eagle High School and Middle School in Palmyra, Wis.

Board votes to dissolve Wisconsin district after 2019-20 school year

The Palmyra-Eagle Area district says it doesn't have the money to operate beyond the 2019-20 school year.

The cash-strapped Palmyra-Eagle Area (Wis.) School Board has voted unanimously to dissolve the district.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the decision comes three months after district voters — by a margin of 61% to 39% — rejected a four-year, $11.5 million operational referendum that district administrators said was necessary to keep the district financially viable. 

The district will be open for the 2019-20 school year. But district officials have said they don't have enough money to operate beyond that. The ultimate fate of the school system now rests with the state School District Boundary Appeal Board.

All six members who were present at its most recent meeting voted for dissolution, including President Scott Hoff.

"I get it. I have to pull four kids out of here," Hoff said. "I get it 100%."

The district had an enrollment of 805 stuidents in 2017-18, state figures show. Palmyra is about 45 miles west of Milwaukee.

Before the vote, community members addressed the board and urged them to postpone or vote against the dissolution. 

"I’m not asking for myself," said Sue Fischer, a teacher in Palmyra-Eagle for 33 years. "I’m an adult. I’ll find another job, or I’ll find another career. But what keeps me up at night, and what makes me cry, on an almost daily basis, is the students at Palmyra-Eagle High School. If we go to dissolution, we lose all local control, and there’s no going back."

The matter now heads to the School District Boundary Appeal Board, a group of 12 school board members created within the Department of Public Instruction to address issues related to school district reorganization.

The appeal board will review the dissolution after Sept. 10, and issue an order by Jan. 15, 2020, either affirming or denying the school board’s dissolution order.

The district’s expenses exceed the revenue the district is generating, according to the district.

Revenue is decreasing because of declining student enrollment. Expenses are mounting because of rising educational costs, insurance costs, utility costs and bus fuel.


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