"We have beaten this to death."
That was River Ridge School Board President Lea Breuer, trying to corral the discussion Wednesday night back to deciding the language of a survey questionnaire the district was planning to send to residents of the district on which way people wanted to go concerning updating school facilities.
But the board never decided to send out a survey at their meeting, deadlocked on the language, and showing the split the board and district residents are on just which way they should move forward dealing with their aging facilities.
More than 3.5 hours into their meeting June 11, most of that time spent discussing the school buildings in Bloomington and Patch Grove, Breuer made a motion to send out a survey to the residents, asking them if they wanted to continue on with sites in both Patch Grove and Bloomington, or if they wanted to consolidate all grades to the Patch Grove site.
"My takeaway from that meeting was, does this community, not just the people who come to these meetings, not just the ones that you heard from in the 'north, south, east, and west (referencing statements made in the audience who were relaying speculation from the public), but also the ones too afraid to come to this meeting, do they want one site or two?" Breuer said.
After last month's three-hour special meeting about the survey, the board had voted to ask the residents whether they wanted one campus in Patch Grove, or retain both schools. That vote directed school administration, as well as a couple school board members, and volunteers from the CCG, the volunteer group organized last spring to look into the building needs issue, to meetin with students and staff at UW-Platteville, who were going to conduct the survey.
What that group came back with was giving two options, but everyone at the meeting, from the audience who was active in the discussion at May and June's meetings, to the board, seemed equally split on whether or not that survey should include estimated numbers on both ideas. Several people, including board member Dave Breuer, felt that the two-site plan, which included moving early childhood to the Bloomington site, were skewed to make residents choose the one-site option as the numbes were inflated.
Lea Breuer offered to chuck the cost estimates, and any information beyond simply asking if residents wanted one site or retain the two.
The board voted, and that measure failed as the board was split, 3-3. Lea Breuer was joined by Bob Key and Bob Mathre in favor of the idea, while Dave Breuer joined Randy Martin and Ken Neis voted against the survey. Kerri Schier was away from the district on a trip, and was unable to attend.
The lengthy meeting was sometimes filled with pointed comments at times, some from the audience to the board, while also from Dave Breuer towards school administration.
During the discussion, a representative from EMC Insurance (the district's insurance provider) telecommunicated, going over a second air quality report for the Patch Grove site. The second report was requested by the State of Wisconsin after Spring 2013 report showed elevated particle levels in the former West Grant High School section. Dave Havick, Senior Industrial Specialist, stated that he felt the numbers were acceptable.
For more details about this meeting, wait for the next issue of the Grant County Herald Independent, on newsstands June 19.