Plans for Grove Elementary progressed last week when members of the Marine Area Community School (MACS) Board spoke with May officials about the possibility of a campus in the township’s Wilder Forest. 

The idea had been presented to the board in hypothetical terms late last year. In January, the MACS Board decided to seriously pursue the Wilder site and is currently working toward lease negotiations with Wilder Foundation and the Manitou Fund.

“There are a lot of programming elements that we planned for the school that fit really nicely with the (Wilder Forest) property,” MACS Chair Kristina Smitten told the May Town Board. “The shorthand of what our educational program is, is that ‘our community is our curriculum.’ We look at the environment, the folks that have depth of experience in the arts, the history we have here and civic engagement. We want to weave those elements into the curriculum. We feel the Wilder campus could be a really ideal place since we can’t be at Marine Elementary, which has school forest and these other elements.”

The MACS Board had looked into housing the K-6 charter school in the current Marine Elementary School building, which is owned by the Stillwater school district, but a legal stay has prevented the district from negotiating over the property until lawsuits regarding the closure of Marine, Withrow and Oak Park elementary schools are resolved.

May board members welcomed the idea of repurposing the former Concordia Language Village buildings for an elementary school.

Town Chair Bill Voedisch noted that the conditional use permit and zoning regulations for the site would have to be amended to allow for a school, but that the township would help the school’s organizers through the procedures.

“There’s a process we have to go through,” he said. “There are time frames and notices in the newspaper and to surrounding citizens and public hearings. … We’ll help you every step of the way.” 

“It’s no secret we’re very supportive of this initiative,” said May supervisor John Pazlar. “There are some administrative things we need to take care of … but in whatever way we can help we’re excited to get this across the finish line.”

“If you knew the things this could have become,” said Voedish. “There were possibilities for this land and those buildings that no one wanted it to serve. Two of them that were absolutely awful. … This school is a good thing.”

Other business

• After reviewing a feasibility study on the Panorama Avenue paving project, the township agreed to hold a community meeting and public hearing in further consideration of the project.

• The board reviewed the 2017 budget and 2018 levy proposal and approved election judges for the March 14 election.

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