Can De Pere schools keep pace with new students?

Quinn Dekker, Staff writer

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As the east side of De Pere gets new additions in the forms of new subdivisions and housing, many are wondering if our schools can keep pace with the rapidly growing town population. The topic was brought up at the most recent school board meeting on Monday, Nov. 19.

The issue of overpopulation in De Pere schools is rising due to the creation of several new housing areas within the school district.

At the school board meeting, superintendent Dr. Benjamin Villarruel drew attention to the issue and how it is putting De Pere schools at risk capacity, and he also emphasized that the problem is specifically threatening to Foxview Intermediate School in particular.

Within the next 10 years, new housing is planned to be developed south of Rockland road near Altmayer Elementary School, he said. In addition, the Heritage Heights area east of Heritage Elementary School is expected to fill 49 lots by spring, as well as a possibility of 400 of new students entering the Unified School District of De Pere from new subdivisions within the Ledgeview area.

Despite the impending threat of school overcrowding, the school board indicated that it was hesitant to make any actions to expand the school district just yet.

This is not the first time De Pere schools have seen rapid growth in student counts. In the latter half of the 2000s, De Pere schools saw an average growth in students of 100 a year, Villarruel said. After several years of massive increases of students, the expansion slowed to a grinding halt during the recession.

This is causing school board members to restrain from making decisions to invest large amounts of money into school expansion just yet, so if De Pere does end up increasing the size of our schools, there is a good chance we won’t see it until several years down the road.