School board votes against referendum for Mattoon School District
By Craig Marx, Editor
The Unified School District of Antigo school board voted overwhelmingly in favor of not allowing a voting referendum for the creation of a separate Mattoon School District at a meeting on Tuesday night. The final resolution was met with an 8-1 vote to pass the denial request, with board member Dr. Patrick McKenna the only representative to vote in favor of the referendum.
The creation of a new Mattoon School District stems from an ongoing request from members of the Mattoon community to create and operate their own self-governing educational body separate from the Unified School District of Antigo (USDA), which closed the Mattoon School this past year. With children dispersed to adjacent schools such as Crestwood Elementary, concerns amongst community members over transportation times and educational quality brought forth a number of special meetings and hearings to allow Mattoon residents to express their problems and new ideas.
At a special meeting held in October of 2016, the financial and territorial considerations of a newly-proposed Mattoon District were outlined by the school board and highlighted for Mattoon residents to consider. With a total asset and liability cost of over $2.8 million, one of the biggest concerns amongst those not in favor of the new district is that any debts incurred by such a newly-created body, should it eventually fail, would subsequently be the responsibility of the former school board – i.e. the USDA. In addition, as per the administrative report, the problems associated with grade sharing upon reaching the high school level were also addressed.
The proposed district would eventually include just over 200 students utilizing the now-closed Mattoon School building. The school board’s complete administrative report, detailing the socioeconomic findings associated with the creation of a new district, is available here.
Persons petitioning for the Mattoon District now have the possibility of appealing Tuesday evening’s board decision. After consulting with board members, a date has not yet been established for an eventual appeal of disallowing the referendum.