PALMYRA — What seemed like a pep rally at the high school gym turned into a plea by teachers, students and residents Thursday night in hopes of saving the Palmyra-Eagle Area School District from dissolving. Hundreds of people attended the first of four sessions where the School District Boundary Appeals Board (SDBAB) heard stories of why students love their school and how parents want to find a solution to fix the problem. Two days after a nonbinding referendum that narrowly voted for dissolving the school district, residents wanted to tell the board that the fight should not be over. “Do not take my choice away to where I want to send my kids,” said Mary Ann Pronschinske. “Open enrollment needs to change.” The theme of the night was how open enrollment has led to many families opting out of the Palmyra-Eagle School District and attending other schools like Mukwonago. With each student who leaves, $7,500 in funding leaves with them. School Board President Scott Hoff spoke at length in front of the crowd that was decked out in purple, saying the board still believes they need to dissolve the school district. While some who came to the podium to speak during their allotted time talked of what they love about the district, many blamed the school board for not doing enough. Hoff told the crowd that the board has looked at everything from closing an elementary school to other cuts, but the money is not there to keep the doors of the school district open. “There is a group that wants Palmyra to stay and let Eagle go,” he said. But splitting the district down county lines that include Jefferson, Walworth and Waukesha counties will not be feasible, Hoff said. The district is facing $12 million in long-term debt, he said, and its budget for the next year will be more than what it has in funds by about $326,000. He also pointed out that since the early 1990s, the district has voted down 14 out of 16 referendums. Hoff did praise the staff, many whom are new teachers, for staying in a district that could dissolve. “Every week I buy a lottery ticket, with hopes of riding in one day on a white horse to save the district,” he said. On Tuesday, voters headed to the polls to answer one question in the nonbinding referendum: “Shall the Palmyra-Eagle Area School District be dissolved under Chapter 117.10 of the Wisconsin Statutes?” When the votes were tallied, 1,219 (53 percent) residents voted “yes” to dissolve the district, while 1,080 voted “no.” Of the “yes” votes, 914 (74.9 percent) of them came from the Town of Eagle and Village of Eagle, both located in Waukesha County. The question of whether to dissolve the school district heated up during April’s election when voters shot down a nonrecurring four-year operational referendum that asked residents for $1.75 million the first year and climbed each year until reaching $4 million the fourth year. The vote was 2,276 “no” votes to 1,473 “yes” votes. There were 1,453 “no” votes from Waukesha County residents alone, with Jefferson County electors overall in favor of the April referendum. One of the most difficult things to hit the Palmyra-Eagle district is open enrollment. There are 769 students within the Palmyra-Eagle Area School District and 340 students who open-enroll into other districts, particularly Mukwonago and Kettle Moraine. Just 25 transfer in. Eagle Elementary School in Waukesha County was built to hold more than 300 pupils, but it is housing 152. Public school enrollment is declining statewide, but in Palmyra-Eagle it has dropped more than 35 percent since 2007. The district says open enrollment state aid transfers are costing it more than $2.2 million per year. If the Palmyra-Eagle Area School District is dissolved, its students would be assigned to other area districts. Whitewater, Mukwonago, Kettle Moraine, and even Fort Atkinson and Jefferson have been mentioned as possible landing spots. Hoff pointed out that the April referendum was the district’s one shot to keep the doors open. But he noted that residents would be asked to spend about $125 per $100,000 in home value. That rate is extremely higher, he noted, than other districts like Whitewater. “As we went into the referendum we shared everything,” Hoff said. “When push came to shove, paying the taxes lost.” The district needs to act like a business, he said, adding the best thing at this point is to dissolve. During the presentations, high school students in the district showed a video they made about why they love the school. Much of that talked about having the opportunity to play many sports and join groups like the Student Council. If they have to attend another district, students said they did not feel like they would have as many activity options. The next public hearing by the board will take place in the Eagle Elementary School gym from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., and 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 14. There also will be a public hearing on Nov. 21. The School District Boundary Appeals Board has until Jan. 15, 2020, to render its decision on whether or not to dissolve the school district.

PALMYRA — What seemed like a pep rally at the high school gym turned into a plea by teachers, students and residents Thursday night in hopes of saving the Palmyra-Eagle Area School District from dissolving.

Hundreds of people attended the first of four sessions where the School District Boundary Appeals Board (SDBAB) heard stories of why students love their school and how parents want to find a solution to fix the problem.

Two days after a nonbinding referendum that narrowly voted for dissolving the school district, residents wanted to tell the board that the fight should not be over.

“Do not take my choice away to where I want to send my kids,” said Mary Ann Pronschinske. “Open enrollment needs to change.”

The theme of the night was how open enrollment has led to many families opting out of the Palmyra-Eagle School District and attending other schools like Mukwonago.

With each student who leaves, $7,500 in funding leaves with them.

School Board President Scott Hoff spoke at length in front of the crowd that was decked out in purple, saying the board still believes they need to dissolve the school district.

While some who came to the podium to speak during their allotted time talked of what they love about the district, many blamed the school board for not doing enough.

Hoff told the crowd that the board has looked at everything from closing an elementary school to other cuts, but the money is not there to keep the doors of the school district open.

“There is a group that wants Palmyra to stay and let Eagle go,” he said.

But splitting the district down county lines that include Jefferson, Walworth and Waukesha counties will not be feasible, Hoff said.

The district is facing $12 million in long-term debt, he said, and its budget for the next year will be more than what it has in funds by about $326,000.

He also pointed out that since the early 1990s, the district has voted down 14 out of 16 referendums.

Hoff did praise the staff, many whom are new teachers, for staying in a district that could dissolve.

“Every week I buy a lottery ticket, with hopes of riding in one day on a white horse to save the district,” he said.

On Tuesday, voters headed to the polls to answer one question in the nonbinding referendum: “Shall the Palmyra-Eagle Area School District be dissolved under Chapter 117.10 of the Wisconsin Statutes?”

When the votes were tallied, 1,219 (53 percent) residents voted “yes” to dissolve the district, while 1,080 voted “no.”

Of the “yes” votes, 914 (74.9 percent) of them came from the Town of Eagle and Village of Eagle, both located in Waukesha County.

The question of whether to dissolve the school district heated up during April’s election when voters shot down a nonrecurring four-year operational referendum that asked residents for $1.75 million the first year and climbed each year until reaching $4 million the fourth year.

The vote was 2,276 “no” votes to 1,473 “yes” votes.

There were 1,453 “no” votes from Waukesha County residents alone, with Jefferson County electors overall in favor of the April referendum.

One of the most difficult things to hit the Palmyra-Eagle district is open enrollment. There are 769 students within the Palmyra-Eagle Area School District and 340 students who open-enroll into other districts, particularly Mukwonago and Kettle Moraine. Just 25 transfer in.

Eagle Elementary School in Waukesha County was built to hold more than 300 pupils, but it is housing 152.

Public school enrollment is declining statewide, but in Palmyra-Eagle it has dropped more than 35 percent since 2007.

The district says open enrollment state aid transfers are costing it more than $2.2 million per year.

If the Palmyra-Eagle Area School District is dissolved, its students would be assigned to other area districts. Whitewater, Mukwonago, Kettle Moraine, and even Fort Atkinson and Jefferson have been mentioned as possible landing spots.

Hoff pointed out that the April referendum was the district’s one shot to keep the doors open. But he noted that residents would be asked to spend about $125 per $100,000 in home value. That rate is extremely higher, he noted, than other districts like Whitewater.

“As we went into the referendum we shared everything,” Hoff said. “When push came to shove, paying the taxes lost.”

The district needs to act like a business, he said, adding the best thing at this point is to dissolve.

During the presentations, high school students in the district showed a video they made about why they love the school. Much of that talked about having the opportunity to play many sports and join groups like the Student Council.

If they have to attend another district, students said they did not feel like they would have as many activity options.

The next public hearing by the board will take place in the Eagle Elementary School gym from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., and 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 14. There also will be a public hearing on Nov. 21.

The School District Boundary Appeals Board has until Jan. 15, 2020, to render its decision on whether or not to dissolve the school district.

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