West Bend considers merging two high schools

CREATED Aug 12, 2014

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WEST BEND -- One school, two schools, red school, blue school.

This might be a new interpretation of a Dr. Seuss classic; the community of West Bend recognizes this as its reality dating back to 1970.
 
West Bend East and West Bend West have their own logos, teams, wings and students. The district divides the kids by birthday (odd versus even), not by geography.
 
"The alumni affiliate with West and East traditions and with the stroke of a pen you don't want to get rid of it," quips Bart Williams, Vice President of the West Bend School Board. "You don't want to create other divisions."
 
Williams and the other board members are now exploring the possibility of merging the two schools under one name, even if they already share one roof. 
 
"I think it's time and it's a discussion the school board needs to have," Ryan Gieryn, another board member and West graduate, asserts. "I think it's very hard for the community to get behind two schools when my daughter is going to West and my neighbor goes to East."
 
Gieryn and his peers might have an uphill battle: many school board members we spoke with conceded that the debate resurfaces every 4-5 years. In fact, the most recent survey showed that students and alumni both wanted to keep the schools separate.
 
"There's many community groups that carve out money for scholarships," Williams explained to TODAY'S TMJ4. "If you take away the two schools, they might reduce that money.‎"
 
Money is not an issue, board members maintain, and sports is actually the driving factor. Gieryn says that a single high school team will better compete at the state level, and attendance would increase when fans have only one team to root for.
 
"The East-West rivalry is great, but when West plays Beaver Dam there are only 15 people in the stands," Gieryn jokes.
 
Williams and Gieryn say there is no timetable for a vote or decision.