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Elmbrook School Board Approves Hillside Redistricting Plan

Planning the merger of Hillside and Brookfield elementary schools can continue in earnest after the board's adoption Tuesday of a redistricting plan.

The Elmbrook School Board on Tuesday approved a redistricting plan that keeps Hillside Elementary students together and adopts other preferred moves sought by parents.

One change in the approved plan: students in census tract 146 will stay at Dixon Elementary School, rather than moving to Swanson Elementary, before moving to Wisconsin Hills Middle School and Brookfield Central High School. Affected parents surveyed said they preferred to stay at Dixon.

The board also supported allowing the eight existing non-resident fourth-graders at Hillside (students who attend Elmbrook through the state's open enrollment and Chapter 220 programs) to choose whether they want to go to middle and high school on the west or east side of the school district.

Board member Bob Ziegler cast the only vote against; he preferred giving all Hillside non-resident students the opportunity to attend Wisconsin Hills and Brookfield Central.

Under the approved plan:

  • All resident Hillside students will move en masse to Brookfield Elementary. All non-resident Hillside students will move to Burleigh Elementary.
  • To make room for Hillside students, Brookfield Elementary students in census tracts 113 and 144 will move to Swanson Elementary, not Dixon as previously proposed, in order to have more peers moving with them to Wisconsin Hills and Brookfield Central. Fourth-graders at Brookfield Elementary will be allowed to stay at their school rather than moving to Swanson for just one year.
  • Brookfield Elementary students in tract 112 will move to Burleigh. Non-resident students at Brookfield Elementary will move to Dixon before moving back to the west-side Wisconsin Hills and Brookfield Central.

Options For Non-Resident Fourth-Graders

A focus Tuesday night was on non-resident fourth-grade students at Hillside, with parents urging they be allowed to attend Wisconsin Hills and Brookfield Central.

Many parents noted their fourth-graders already identify themselves with the west side through attending Junior Lancer athletic and activities programs.

"All the kids at Hillside are losing," parent Jane Pipia said. "They're losing their teachers, they're losing their principal."

They will lose their Junior Lancer identity as well, if required to move to Pilgrim Park Middle and Brookfield East, she added. Agreeing with Pipia were Jim and Michelle Matel, who live in the City of Pewaukee and are in the Waukesha School District but open enroll into Elmbrook and have a fourth-grade son at Hillside.

Board members supported giving those families the choice — after attending Burleigh Elementary for one year — which middle school they want their children to attend.

Transition Plan to be Presented Dec. 13

Superintendent Matt Gibson thanked families in the district for their patience getting through the closure and redistricting decisions and said he plans to present a detailed transition plan at the Dec. 13 board meeting.

Gibson also noted that parents concerned about class sizes under the redistricting plan should know that there will be some flexibility to add sections and stay within the district's budget.

"I don't want to convey that class sizes will be a lot lower than this," he said but there should be some flexibility.

Board member Meg Wartman urged the district to meet with parent-teacher organization leaders, who she said have some "great energies" and ideas about making the best transition.

More detail about the redistricting plan moves is listed on this district website page.

Frank Pipia November 23, 2011 at 07:05 PM
I'm very proud of you Jane Pipia for standing behind your fellow school choice families. It's sad that Waukesha fights our annexing into the Elmbrook School District when more than half of our neighbors are in the Elmbrook School District. Depends what side of the street you live on. I wish more people would have fought to keep Hillside open and nobody would have had to move. The ones that didn't say anything have no reason to complain as to the outcome. I thank Elmbrook School District board of directors for making the tough calls and doing the best they could with what they had to work with.
Charles Utnehmer November 29, 2011 at 12:07 AM
Many thanks to the Board of the Elmbrook School District! And a special thanks to Dr. Gibson for taking the time to not only listen, but let us feel like we were actually heard. Congratulations to the eight!!! Jane, you made it happen. Good Karma to you! Michelle, great testimony! We can't thank you enough. It sure is nice to look toward the future with a clear path!

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