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Phillips School District celebrates completion of referendum project

Students design and develop a wooden sign in the Phillips School District's new technical education facility.
Erin Gottsacker
Students design and develop a wooden sign in the Phillips School District's new technical education facility.

A group of three high school students guide a slab of wood through a huge piece of machinery to design a sign for a local business.

They’re working on the manufacturing floor of their high school, part of a new two-story addition to the school’s east side.

“It’s a great opportunity for our teenagers to be exposed to things our own community offers as opportunities for work, with really well-paying jobs right in their own town,” said Phillips School District Superintendent Rick Morgan.

The school’s new technical education wing is just one of many recent changes made possible because of a successful referendum.

By adding the technical education wing, the school opened up additional classroom space in the rest of the building.

The referendum was successful partly because the district had a plan to use this space.

“Twenty-five years ago, we were a much larger school district, like a lot of Wisconsin schools,” Morgan explained. “Our community recognized the fact that we had some empty spaces. Before we were going to be able to move forward with a successful referendum, we needed to come up with and devise a plan that was going to maximize every single room.”

So rather than make expensive repairs to the district’s elementary school, the community voted to move grades 4k through 12 under the same roof.

“Moving the elementary from that site over here to one campus was the only way we were going to be able to use every room efficiently,” Morgan said.

That move required some renovations though.

“We put new ceilings in, new lighting, painted the walls, put new flooring in,” Morgan said. That’s in addition to adding handwashing stations and bathrooms to the school’s new elementary wing.

The school’s performing arts center was also given a facelift, with support from the Northwoods Players, a local community theater group.

It has been years in the works, but all of these changes were completed just in time for the 2022-2023 school year.

The Phillips School District is celebrating the renovations with a project dedication Monday at 7 p.m. Community members are invited to attend and see the new additions.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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