Brookfield's Hillside Elementary to close in spring

Parents make one more plea for school

Oct. 26, 2011

Hillside Elementary will be closed at the end of this school year.

Despite a last-ditch effort that included pleas from parents, their Hillside kids, and those who support their position, the Elmbrook School Board on Tuesday voted, 6-1, to shutter the school. The move is part of an effort to close a $8.7 million shortfall projected over the next five fiscal years.

Board member Bob Ziegler, who opposed closing any school before further study or at least before also presenting a full redistricting plan, cast the dissenting vote.

Board views

Before they voted, board members said the decision was based in part on the shortfall and in part on the district's excess capacity.

"The fact is that going to five elementary schools still means that we are at 68 percent capacity (in the elementary schools)," member Glen Allgaier said. "My personal philosophy about this issue is that we need to do what is best for the district.

"We don't always agree on everything on the board, but we try to represent the majority of the community," Allgaier added.

He called Elmbrook a "great" school system.

He said he would have supported closing two schools - Hillside as well as Tonawanda in Elm Grove.

"Capacity should be considered in greater detail," Allgaier added. "Do we go to 70, 80 or 90 percent? We need to figure that out."

Board President Tom Gehl said the overriding reason for the financial situation is the decline in enrollment over the last 10 years. He said the board has tried to address that decline with nonresident enrollment, but it has not been enough.

"Long-term," he said, "it would not be wise to keep excess capacity."

Hillside support

Hillside supporters were as diverse as their comments.

Steve Taipala brought his 7-year-old daughter, Hillside second-grader Ainsley, to the speaker podium. Wearing a Hillside T-shirt, she stood on a chair to reach the microphone.

"If you close Hillside, I will miss my teachers," she said. "I will be real sad."

Her father said, "I know you think you are moving forward, but I don't think we are moving in the right direction."

Mary Wacker, an Elm Grove resident, said her children attended Tonawanda and she told the board they should not close any school.

"Don't let your legacy be a take-away from this community," Wacker said. "I am a taxpayer. Let me know what I can do."

Karen Selkey, a Hillside parent and freelance advertising design professional, offered her help to attract more students to the district.

"I just wanted to offer another idea," she said after the meeting.

On to redistricting

Superintendent Matt Gibson said he is planning to hold informational meetings on redistricting for the remaining schools at 6 and 8 p.m. Nov. 2. The location was to be decided after press deadline. Check or for updates.

Decision background

Tuesday's vote came after three previous meetings in which Hillside supporters challenged the School Board on almost every point they presented as reasons for the closure.

Public meetings held on Sept. 29 and Oct. 4 brought out hundreds of attendees. A similar-size crowd came to the regularly scheduled Oct. 11 meeting, carving out a three-hour discussion in that evening's agenda.

Another issue protesting parents raised throughout the process is that non-closure initiatives - including selling property, starting 4-year-old kindergarten and incorporating multi-age classrooms - have not seriously been considered by the district.

Superintendent Matt Gibson, as well as several School Board members, have indicated that those measures could not be done soon enough to address the shortfall.

Further complicating the issue is Gibson's retirement at the end of the school year. He has noted he has ample time to participate in redistricting.

This site uses Facebook comments to make it easier for you to contribute. If you see a comment you would like to flag for spam or abuse, click the "x" in the upper right of it. By posting, you agree to our Terms of Use.

Suburban News Roundup

E-mail Newsletter

Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.

Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter
Get the Newsletter!

Login or Register to manage all your newsletter preferences.

Community Watch

» SPORTS NOTES NOV. 19 11/25

» Glacier girls hockey to return eight players 11/25

» SCORECARD: Elmbrook Swim Club 11/25

» Brookfield/Catholic Memorial boys hockey team co-op begins fourth season 11/25

» Brookfield East has surprising gridiron season 11/25

» Brookfield panel recommends approval of public assistance for Milwaukee Tool expansion 11/24

» Brookfield Central's Kennedy proud of football team's effort in winning conference title 11/24

» Fairview South's annual Silent Auction and Craft Fair to raise funds for school iPads 11/24

» City of Brookfield to discuss potential financial aid for Milwaukee Tool expansion 11/24

» Sport Shorts: Nov. 26, 2015 11/24

» Oak Creek girls basketball team pulls away from Brookfield Central in second half 11/24

» Sports Notes: Nov. 26, 2015 11/24

» Brookfield East's Matt Szews named Volleyball Player of the Year, first-team all-state 11/24

» Brookfield Academy: Nov. 26, 2015 11/24

» Elm Grove library friends group kicks off holiday season with Lights of Love and tree lighting event 11/23

» Elm Grove board approves small levy increase 11/23

» School Notes: Nov. 26 11/23

» Brookfield Square to open at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving evening, 6 a.m. for Black Friday 11/23

» New Brookfield classes combine fitness for moms with their kids in strollers 11/23

» Elm Grove to vote on 2016 budget tonight 11/23

» Brookfield East girls basketball team starts out 2-0 11/23

» Brookfield East soccer team names three senior captains as MVPS 11/23

» BEAST Robotics team asks for volunteers, mentors to help build robot next year 11/23

» Brookfield East girls swimming team looks back on excellent season 11/23

» Coach Nash pleased with improvement on Brookfield Central boys volleyball team 11/23

View All Posts Got a tip? Welcome rss



2015 Writing Contest


(Click image for details)

Local Business Directory