Mixed views on Manitowoc grade alignment changes

Manitowoc residents talk about grade alignment changes for the Manitowoc Public School District during a community listening session on May 15, 2018. (Photo credit: WLUK)

MANITOWOC (WLUK) -- For more than a decade, the Manitowoc Public School District has talked about sending its 9th graders to Lincoln High School. A group of more than 50 district employees believes it now has a plan to do that.

“We reviewed 20 different options and as a group we came back with this option,” said Mark Holzman, Manitowoc Public School District Superintendent.

Right now, Manitowoc is one of the last public school districts in the state to only have 10th through 12th grades at its high school. Wisconsin Rapids is moving toward a 9th-12th format next year. Steven Point is also studying the issue.

Under Manitowoc's new proposal, 9th graders would attend the high school. 6th graders would go to the district's two junior highs, which would become middle schools. The district's elementary schools would host 5K through 5th grades.

Right now, all early childhood, 4K and 5K students go to Riverview Early Learning Center. Those 5K students would go to their neighborhood elementary schools because Riverview would change to a regular elementary school. It will be taking on all students from Stangel Elementary School. Stangel would then take on McKinley Acadmey's alternative high school students.

“I don't know what my future holds,” said Renee Siikarla, a 5K teacher at Riverview.

Concerned teachers from Riverview joined others at a school board meeting Tuesday night to talk about the grade level changes.

“None of us know what our placement will be,” said Siikarla. “I'm sure the discussion will take place the next year. My concern is there are so many changes and how is the district going to do all that in one year.”

The district has said teacher layoffs are possible, but not a goal and efforts will be made to keep existing staff.

Other views on the plan from people at the meeting were mixed.

Some people are worried about alternative high school students taking over Stangel's building.

“We've lived there for over 20 years with grade school kids and never had an issue and I don't want an issue,” said Margie Vansleet of Manitowoc.

“I think it's a good plan,” said Heather James. “For us, it will improve our proximity to our local grade school.”

As for McKinley Academy, the district isn't sure what it will be used for. It's the district's oldest building, built in 1891.

The school board is scheduled to vote on the proposal next week, on May 24th.

If the board passes the plan, it would take affect in the 2019-2020 school year.

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