By Craig Marx, Editor
The Unified School District of Antigo held a special session on Tuesday evening to discuss the finer points of a proposed resolution for the creation of a new school district in Mattoon, including “establishing precise boundaries and the apportionment of assets and liabilities.”
After hearing a brief, open public comment from area residents, the school board began the discussion of the actual boundaries of the proposed territory. The new Mattoon school district was broken down into three potential territories, referred to simply as “maps,” that would outline the boundaries of the district’s functionality.
Map 1, which included areas west of Hwy 45 into Aniwa, was dismissed virtually from the beginning of the conversation. Map 2, which was defined as the area “east of Hwy 45 and south of Hwy 47, including Pond Road” was most well received and contemplated, despite its inclusion of areas of Phlox.
During the public comment section beforehand, two Phlox residents spoke on their displeasure with being incorporated into the proposed Mattoon territory. A third option that had previously been contemplated by the board, appropriately titled “Map 3,” was also discussed in which portions of Phlox would remain in the Antigo district at the expense of roughly 50 students that would eventually be needed to help fill out class sizes should the new district be approved (based on shifting of the northern boundary to Hwy D and Red River Road).
With the rezoning of the new district from the studies of Map 1 to 2, the loss of potential students to Mattoon from Aniwa was estimated at 30 children. The Map 2 consideration would incorporate approximately 204 students.
In terms of financial considerations, the total assets and liabilities of the new district would equal $2,658,196.36. The Mattoon district made up 8.584% of the total area district’s valuation based on last year’s model, and currently the Mattoon school building itself has a book value, or structural value without depreciation considerations, of $78,000.
The projected opening of the new district and school would be the 2018-19 school year. Though intended to be more of a financial meeting, representatives from Mattoon noted that the proposed school would begin as a K-6 operation with potential expansion in the future. The class sizes and enrollment needed to effectively open the newly-autonomous school would be contingent upon the board’s territorial decisions.
“We can’t go less than 200 students,” Zak Kickhaver, a Mattoon representative, said while addressing the board. “While some speakers here have expressed concern over Phlox, we feel a lot of people feel the opposite about being incorporated north of Hwy D right now. We have the legal counsel and financial planning ready. We hope to come up with something that the people will be happy with.”
With the Map 2 discussion and financial framework finalized, the school board voted 8-0 in favor of the resolution’s adoption. The resolution represents the boundaries and legal agreements necessary to be put forth for a potential creation of a new district by the school board this coming January. If approved, a later referendum for the public would actually determine the creation of the new district or the continuation of Mattoon’s belonging to the Antigo district.