Greendale trustees rescind school polling place referendum

Published on: 8/26/2014

Greendale — Polling places will remain in Greendale schools — at least for the near future.

The board of trustees this week unanimously rescinded its referendum question that would have put the suddenly controversial topic before voters.

In July, the board had approved the referendum question, which would have asked residents whether they wanted polling places to be removed from district schools, in response to concerns about student safety raised within the Greendale School District.

Those concerns became public last December, when members of the Highland View Elementary PTO expressed their fears before the school board. In response, the district requested in a formal letter that the village remove its polling places from schools by the general election, which this year will be held on Nov. 2.

The school district sent another letter to the board of trustees last week, which redefined its request and granted permission to keep polling places in schools for the election due to 'the various challenges faced by the village.'

Both letters were rescinded by the school board last week, thereby removing the need for a referendum question.

That led to a special meeting by the board of trustrees on Monday, Aug. 25, to officially settle the matter, at least for now.

The purpose of these proceedings 'was to encourage the dialogue, not to keep putting (a decision) off,' Trustee Sally Chadwick said during Monday's special meeting. 'Let's get going on this and start talking about it. We need to continue on with discussion and come up with some things for both boards to consider.'

No residents in attendance Monday offered any public comment regarding the issue.

'We and the school board work together on many occasions … and we've always known them to be good partners in this community and they help drive this community forward,' said Village President John Hermes during the meeting. 'I expect no change in that relationship as we move forward, and I hope that's exactly the case.'

Highland View PTO President Aleks Skibicki said removing the referendum question 'was the right decision.'

'The issue turned into a political game, a partisan game,' Skibicki said. 'Since this issue came up, folks from all over have been wedging their way into the issue. From radio talk show hosts to conservative rabble rousers from Madison, there is a segment out there trying to make partisan hay out of what is a local question of our kids' safety. It was pitting Greendale against Greendale and I found it very disappointing.

'But, all together, from start to finish, it moved the issue forward. There are plans on the table that weren't there before.'