Where will Maple Grove/Athens students attend classes?
Athens School District scheduled to start classes August 31
TINA L. SCOTT
The petition for Maple Grove School and the surrounding area in the Town of Hamburg to detach from the Merrill Area Public Schools (MAPS) District and attach to the Athens School District was approved and the detachment finalized back in February of this year. That detachment became effective July 1, 2021.
Now, school is set to begin for Athens students on August 31, but the Maple Grove School building and property still technically belong to MAPS. So where will Athens School District/Maple Grove students attend classes?
Maple Grove Properties consist of a 1.2 acre school parcel with school building, 5.0 acre “Private Onsite Wastewater Treatment System” (POWTS)/Septic System, and an 18.79 acre school forest, and that property is all still owned by MAPS.
Wisconsin requires that, because of the detachment, both the Merrill and Athens Districts require “an apportionment and adjustment of assets and liabilities be made in connection with the detachment.”
One of the necessary steps is for both Districts to adopt, “by three-fourths vote of the members of each School Board, identical resolutions which establish an alternative method to govern” such adjustment, unless they wish to follow the standard procedure set forth in the Wisconsin Statutes. In response to an open records request, MAPS send a copy of an appropriate Agreement and Mutual Waiver that must be passed and then signed to do this. The copy provided showed the Merrill Area Common Public School District had signed the document on June 28, 2021, but the copy provided did not show the printed name of the signor, nor a signature for the Athens School District.
“The Maple Grove Foundation Inc. optimistically anticipated the sale of the Properties and a lease agreement with the Athens School District to have been completed by July 1, 2020,” said Peter Fromm Wade, President and Director of the Maple Grove Foundation, Inc., a public charity organized in December 2018 as a 501(c)(3) whose mission is to assist and benefit the Maple Grove Charter School.
“Optimally the sale of the Properties must occur soon and a lease agreement ironed out thereafter in order to efficiently and responsibly set up school and transition the new Charter School within the Athens District at the Town of Hamburg location,” he added.
“The Maple Grove Foundation Inc. continues to fully provide its upmost ability and cooperation to complete the combined goal of opening the Maple Grove Charter School at the Town of Hamburg location this September 2021,” Wade said. “It is the Maple Grove Foundation’s hope and anticipation that the administration and School Board of the Merrill Area Public Common School District collaborates within this hopeful and beneficial outcome for the sake of children and families, as well as our combined communities.”
“Dr. John Sample MAPS Superintendent indicated in a public meeting called the Answer and Questions meeting, that the property would be sold to the Maple Grove Foundation Inc.,” Wade said. “The meeting was January 7th. 6:30 p.m. in the MAPS High School Auditorium.”
Nonetheless, Sample indicated via email on Monday, July 19, that, “We have not received an offer to purchase. This process is still in the negotiation phase.”
The price, the means of valuing the assets and liabilities, and the process for the sale of the Maple Grove Properties seem to still be up in the air, and meanwhile, summer is rapidly racing to a close.
The Athens School Board was scheduled to meet on Monday evening, July 19, and a Maple Grove Update was on their Agenda.
The MAPS School Board was scheduled to meet on Wednesday evening, July 21, and their Agenda included time for the Board to convene into closed session, in part for “the consideration and discussion of the sale of personal and real property associated with Maple Grove School, and the division of assets and liabilities between Merrill Area Common Public School District and Athens School District, which may occur as a result of granting petitions for detachment of property in the Town of Hamburg, and to take action regarding the same.”
After convening in closed session, “The Board may reconvene to open session and may take action upon the matters discussed during the closed session portion of the meeting.”
As of the time of writing this article the evening of Monday, July 19, no additional information was available.