Editor's Note: Adam Schwartz, a Shorewood resident and student at the high school, will weigh in weekly, on school issues.
As trends like fashion and music have come and gone over the past decade in the Shorewood School District, one has remained the same — the districts declining resident enrollment.
In fact, the district has had to cut teachers, meaning the remaining teachers have had to teach in front of the largest classes in the history of Shorewood, cut classes like Chinese language and take up referendum after referendum.
Since the 2000-01 school year, Shorewood's resident enrollment has dropped by 13 percent, from 1,857 students to 1,617, even though the district saw a small increase in resident student's last year. The district's overall enrollment has increased over the last four years, but resident enrollment is where it's at when it comes to funding.
This year, according to Mark Boehlke, director of business services, was just over $12,100 per student for a resident student, whereas an open enrollment or Chapter 660 student would bring the district a little more than $6,000 per student or about half.
This decline in resident enrollment has put a strain on the district's revenue limit, resulting in a lost of teachers and, in the past few years, there have been many discussions regarding closing one school in the district.
In the Grade Reorganization Committee, most of the proposals have included a closing of Shorewood Intermediate School, a school that has operating costs of over $1 million per year. With the budget crunch the district is facing, why keep such an expensive school open?
Critics of grade reorganization say by keeping seventh grade students in an elementary school for an additional year, and putting eighth grade students with high school students, it will hinder them emotionally for the rest of their lives. Others say high school students would bully younger students and seventh grade students need the freedom from their younger counterparts.
A lot of the people who describe these scenarios aren't even parents of students who attend Shorewood schools, or students themselves. In fact, they hardly know what goes on in the Shorewood district.
As a senior at Shorewood High, I've seen almost everything that has gone on in the district. I went to both elementary schools and the middle school. I will admit that I had a rough couple of years at SIS and a pretty terrible four years at Atwater. That wasn't because of the elder students or the younger ones. It was some of my peers.
What I've noticed, in regards to bullying the eighth graders, is actually not true — for Shorewood, at least. There are times when those students require coming to the high school. Instead of terrorizing the adolescents, the older students welcome them, joke with them and make conversation with them. (Yes, there are some "big shots" that try to be funny, but you'd encounter that anywhere you go.)
One of these eighth grade students, who chose to remain anonymous agreed.
“As long as the eighth grade teachers are at SHS, and only teach the eighth graders, no high school students, then yes, SIS could be closed," she said.
She added that classes need to be chosen for the students, as well as the half-hour, on-campus lunch they have now. Seventh graders won't be hindered emotionally if they were to remain at their own elementary school since "they would have been there for the past six years," given the aforementioned set-up.
Another reorganization set-up would make one elementary school K4 through third grades, the other fourth through seventh. That set-up would be better than the one above.
Let's face it, the school district has low enrollment, which means less money, meaning more cuts, bigger class sizes and more referendums. Speaking with numerous teachers, they all agree that something needs to be done. A bigger student-to-teacher ratio is not the way to go. An eighth grade student even says that she'd be OK with attending school with a bunch of "scary, older high school students" now, and she wouldn't be affected for the rest of her life.
Why? They're not even all that scary.