After weeks of public debate over where the boundaries for Verona area schools should fall, the Board of Education made the final decision with little fanfare on Monday night. After a short discussion, the board voted unanimously to adopt the recommendations of the Boundary Committee for elementary schools and chose to implement Option A for the middle schools.
Option A will send Military Ridge to Fitchburg for middle school, as well as large portions of the district’s rural areas. East View middle school students will stay in Verona.
Prior to the board’s decision on the boundary issue, board president Gregg Miller replied to criticism of the board regarding its actions.
“This board has been accused of not having a plan… no vision for the future, which is certainly not the case. We have been planning all along. We can plan until we’re blue in the face, and if the community doesn’t support the plan, it does no good,” Miller said.
He noted that in the past, the board has been accused of rubber-stamping committee recommendations, but not it is accused of not honoring the committee recommendations.
“It is the responsibility of this board to be as thorough as possible in making decisions that affect the children of this district. Anything less would be wrong,” he said.
He reaffirmed that charter schools receive consideration equal to the other schools in the district. He denounced the notion that the district problems would be solved with Fitchburg creating its own school district.
“This is and will continue to be Verona Area School District. Since that portion of the district that is within the City of Fitchburg contributes a larger percentage of the tax revenue than it does students, I would suggest that the rest of us thank them for being part of this district rather than try to make Fitchburg a villain in this process.”
Miller concluded his comments by saying, “There is no silver bullet answer to this problem. People will be angry. We will decide using the same criteria we always use .. and that is what is in the best interests of the majority of the children of this district.”
Nancy Horns withdrew her motion that was tabled at the last meeting, “clearing the slate” for the decision on the boundaries.
Two amendments were added before final passage. Board member Dan Elsass, noting the public’s concern about the growth of subdivisions and the overcrowding of schools, proffered an amendment placing Prairie Crest, the sixth addition of Eastview, Prairie Oaks and Fitchburg’s Harlan Hill developments all within the boundary of Savanna Oaks Middle School. It was unanimously approved.
Ken Behnke entered an amendment placing students in the area bounded by Hwy. 69 to the east and Hwy. 18-151 to the north in the Verona Area Middle School instead of Savanna Oaks. It was submitted as an option to be discussed at the next meeting.
“That area in the southwest really has no direct route to Savanna Oaks,” Behnke said.