A rural school homecoming?
Hamburg native predicts Maple Grove will reattach to Athens
Peter Fromm Wade, president of the Friends of Maple Grove Governance Council, believes it’s only a matter of time when Maple Grove School in the town of Hamburg “returns back home to the Athens School District.”
He said Tuesday the rural charter school, established in 1904, formerly was in the Athens School District in the 1930s and 40s. His aunt, Johanna Fromm Schedler, attended Maple Grove School and then Athens High School during this time period.
Fromm-Wade said in the 1950s his grandfather and great uncles advocated for Maple Grove School to be in the Merrill Area Public School (MAPS) district because there was a busing service going from Hamburg to Merrill. He said MAPS no longer wants Maple Grove, but Athens schools superintendent Jeff Mastin has publicly invited the Hamburg school to attach to the Athens School District in the future. “Now it’s time for Maple Grove School to come back to its home school district of Athens,” Fromm Wade proclaimed. He thanked Mastin and the Athens Board of Education at its meeting on Monday for welcoming Maple Grove School into its district. John Sample, MAPS district superintendent, said Merrill continues to see a decline in student enrollment school year. He said MAPS Board of Education wants to close Maple Grove School to save money on transportation and maintaining and paying utilities for the rural Hamburg elementary school. He said ideally MAPS would close Maple Grove School and the district move its 83 students into its other three elementary schools in Merrill.
MAPS Board of Education approved a motion during last Wednesday’s meeting to notify Friends of Maple Grove Governance Council it has an April 1 deadline to “cure breaches of its charter school contract.” Sample said Maple Grove School has defaulted on three terms of its charter school contract that lasts until 2022 including student achievement, test scores and enrollment numbers.
Fromm Wade said Dawn Noon, principal at Maple Grove School, as assured him the elementary school isn’t defaulting on any terms in the charter school contract with MAPS district. Fromm Wade said the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has a Feb. 30 deadline for both the Merrill and Athens school boards to approve resolutions to detach and attach Maple Grove School and its three parcels of land totaling 25 total acres.
He said if the school districts meet the Feb. 30 deadline, then Maple Grove school would be part of the Athens School District beginning next school year. The distance in travelling from Maple Grove elementary school to the Athens and Merrill high schools is nearly the same, and Athens School District already has a bus travelling to Hamburg to pick up students.
“I attended Maple Grove School, yet my neighbor friends I played with during the summer went to school in Athens,” Fromm Wade said. “I think Maple Grove School attaching to the Athens School District would unify the town of Hamburg.”