Rhinelander elementary school boundaries announced
By Eileen Persike
Attendance areas for the School District of Rhinelander elementary schools were unveiled at Monday night’s school board meeting. The new boundaries are needed following the board decision to make Crescent, Central, Pelican and Northwoods Community Elementary schools all kindergarten through grade five.
Central, with only grades four and five, was supposed to be a temporary solution in the early 2000s when schools were closing and staff and students were realigned, according to district curriculum director Teri Maney. Giving students fewer transitions from school building to school building is better for students, she added.
“It was important that we look at many different possibilities,” superintendent Kelli Jacobi told the board, “So we changed configurations to see what the changes would be and would they be good for the district as a whole, would they be detrimental, did it do anything to our equity. We looked at many, many, many options and this is what we believe is our best option.”
Maney said those working on redrawing boundaries tried to do what made sense.
“We didn’t want somebody three or four blocks from central going to crescent or pelican when they can see the other kids in the neighborhood going to the school that’s just down the street,” Many said. “There has been enormous thinking about this.”
To complicate matters somewhat, the contract the district signed to renew the Northwoods Community Elementary School charter with the state of Wisconsin wasn’t valid. Changes that were believed to have been made at the state level were not made, which gave the district no option but to change NCES from charter to a regular elementary school.
NCES Principal Alex Bontz said the news was bittersweet. “We’ll be keeping our identity and following the project-based model with emphasis on STEAM [science technology engineering art math] and continuing the great work we’re doing.”
The NCES name may or may not change in the future, Jacobi said, and though like the other elementary schools it will have a defined boundary, there will be space for students outside of that to request attendance.
Jacobi said the administration has a communication plan and will be sending parents a message Tuesday and meeting with elementary school teachers Wednesday. A map of the attendance areas will be available this week on the district’s website.