Board Vote Gets Standing Ovation

The West Bend twin high schools will not merge

By Alyssa Birkeland, Current Staff

On Monday, the school board unanimously voted to have East and West remain as two separate schools.

After a short period of public participation with resident, student, and teacher speakers, Superintendent Neitzke took over the microphone to formally address the board with his recommendation to not combine the high schools. Neitzke restated the opinion he expressed at Friday’s pep rally, and also went in depth about how he believes this discussion should be handled in the future. The new policies he proposed to be implemented include making it more difficult for future boards to avoid a strict process.

The 7-0 vote was welcomed by a standing ovation and roaring applause from the audience—something new to the board after a two-month process of public criticism and disapproval.

Monte Schmiege, a West Bend resident, was ultimately pleased with the results. “Mr. Neitzke did a pretty good job of putting out the pros and cons, but there was never a compelling reason [to combine],” Schmiege said. “It seemed pretty cut and dried after the community spoke.”

“It’s also important for the students to recognize that this is how democracy really works.”
– Superintendent Neitzke

“We took into consideration what was most important for you guys, the students,” Neitzke said after the meeting. “It’s also important for the students to recognize that this is how democracy really works; that these people are elected, and when the ones who elected them aren’t happy with what they’re thinking, they make it known and then they have to respond to that.”

School board president Randy Marquardt also brought up ties with democracy. “This came up as a good check and balance and really got people involved in what’s going on in the schools,” he said.

Marquardt also recognized underlying issues involving athletics that were revealed through this debate that he hopes can be addressed.

Neitzke ended with his vision of “painting the town” maroon and gold (East colors) and blue and white (West colors) to embrace the schools’ unique division. Plans are being put in place to paint the fieldhouse and the main hallway the rivalry colors; and also construct signs on Highway 33 and 60 welcoming visitors to West Bend, Home of the Suns and Home of the Spartans.

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