A unanimous vote: School Board says "no" to proposed merger of West Bend West, East high schools

WEST BEND (WITI) -- West Bend could've been home to the state's largest high school, but the community and the school board have said "no." West Bend School Board members on Monday evening, October 6th unanimously voted down a proposal to merge the town's two high schools.

For about 45 years, West Bend East and West Bend West high schools have operated separately out of the same building.

The West Bend School Board surveyed the community about a possible merger and nearly 75% said they want to keep the school's separate. The board voted Monday evening to give the majority what it wanted.

Supporters of separate high schools did some last minute politicking before Monday evening's West Bend School Board meeting. Nearly three-quarters of those who took a community survey favor leaving things as they are -- with West Bend West and West Bend East high schools sharing many of the same resources.

Public comments Monday reflected that opinion.

"As a parent of two kids in the West Bend School District, I do not - I repeat do not - want my children`s opportunities diminished or taken away by combining the schools," Joseph Hynst said.

Supporters of the proposal to merge the schools say by creating the state's largest high school, West Bend students would have to compete for spots in clubs and on sports teams -- something that would force them to study and practice harder.

"Competition is good if you can just consider the possibility that, as much emotionalism as is being displayed here, there may be a more pragmatic aspect to combining the schools," Joe Garrison said.

One of the largest crowd reactions came in response to a West Bend West freshman who defended the club openings and roster spots that come with a two-school system.

"Is it more important that this generation has good athletes? Or that we became the movers and shakers of the world?" Olivia McClain said.

Many in the audience feared the seven-member board would vote against their wishes, but as it turned out, they had little cause for concern.

West Bend School District officials say it's important that West Bend improves its athletic program. Going forward, the district will have a small task force come up with ways to do that in a two-school system.

Similar efforts to merge the high schools failed in 1992 and 2008.

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