By Jared Vleskey, Greg Bintz, William Soquet, and Zach Glander
The Green Bay Area Public School District recently voted to close Wequiock Elementary School and move those students to Red Smith School for the 2024-25 school year. These are two elementary schools that are close to UWGB, affecting many people near campus.
Kaylyn Brandl, a student teacher at Red Smith Elementary, spoke on the current state of Red Smith and the implications of the merger. “To be honest, I don’t know much about this, but I know that the hallways at Red Smith are already packed, so with more schools coming, there won’t be much room in the hallways and classrooms,” she said. Brandl also stated that she does not think that they will be overwhelmed, and the school will be able to hold all the students, but it will be busy.
Many children and parents were affected by this switch and have voiced their thoughts. Although the decision was already made, there are many who are still against it. On the other hand, some families are excited for their students to move and be given more opportunities this school year. Change is always hard, especially for elementary students, but in this situation, they won’t leave their friends. This switch will give students a new change of scenery but will still allow them to be with their friends and make new ones as well.
After years of declining enrollment, the Green Bay Area public school district is finally closing some schools that are under capacity. Wequiock will be the first one to close, happening at the end of the current school year. Emotions are high among many involved in the situation, as it will likely be the first of many schools to close.
Wequiock Elementary opened at its current location in 1998. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the school currently has 105 enrolled students in grades pre-kindergarten through 5. In addition to one-time maintenance costs, the school district estimates that closing the school will save $884,000 every year.
A parent of a former Wequiock student stated, “For me, it didn’t matter much. As long as my child is put in a place that is best for them to succeed, then I have no problem with the change. I mean, as long as they are taught the same material as they should be, then I support it.”
Red Smith School opened in 1999 and is named after national sportswriter and Green Bay native William “Red” Smith. Per the NCES, Red Smith has 856 students enrolled in grades pre-kindergarten through 8. While Wequiock’s largest class of students is 22, Red Smith’s smallest (excluding pre-kindergarten) is 54.
“This is a painful vote,” school board president Laura McCoy said during the vote to close, which was unanimous. “We are headed to making other votes like this, but this is the first one, and none of us are taking any joy in it.” At publishing time, the school board also voted to shutter Tank Elementary School and Keller Elementary School in summer 2024 and was contemplating additional closures.