Damakant Jayshi

The Wausau School District will not combine high schools at this time as part of its restructuring plan, after a crucial vote Monday by the board.

Under a proposal suggested by board member Pat McKee and revised amid a robust discussion Monday, the current high school structure will remain, with fifth grade remaining under the elementary school umbrella.

McKee amended his original motion to secure support for his proposal, which now eliminates secondary schools from the restructuring process. Wausau East and West will remain intact for grades nine through 12 while John Muir and Horace Mann will serve grades six through eight. Officials will continue to find solutions to decrease the amount of space for elementary education.

Community reaction has been strong after Superintendent Keith Hilts plan was rolled out, with a petition garnering more than 2,000 signatures asking for a referendum on his vision for the district.

McKee said the board should make a definite statement that they heard the community’s concerns, while Karen Vandenberg said approving his measure ensures the community and staff is not left in limbo.

The proposal passed narrowly, 5-4. Besides McKee and Vandenberg, Cory Sillars, Jennifer Paoli and Jon Creisher voted in favor of taking the secondary school merger off the table. Board President James Bouche, Vice President Lance Trollop and members Cody Nikolai and Joanna Reyes voted against McKee’s plan.

Since the voice vote was not clear, a roll call was taken. Once the final tally was announced there were cheers and applause in the audience.

Wausau Pilot & Review will have a more complete story later on Tuesday.