Officials tout success, plans for community

School, village and town leaders express pride, optimism at annual Chamber luncheon
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

Community accomplishments and the future of Grafton took the spotlight when officials and residents gathered for the Grafton Area Chamber of Commerce State of the Community luncheon at the River Room on the Milwaukee on Wednesday, Feb. 27.

During the event, Grafton School District Supt. Jeff Nelson, Village President Jim Brunnquell and Town Chairman Lester Bartel spoke to more than 100 attendees about Grafton’s growth. 

Nelson told the audience that the district’s recent academic successes are predicated on last year’s $39.9 million school facilities project, which was approved by voters during a referendum in 2017. For the first time, the district received a school report card rating of “Significantly Exceeds Expectations” by the state Department of Public Instruction, which places Grafton in the top 10% among Wisconsin school districts, Nelson said. 

“It’s a really good indicator of the academic success that our students are experiencing,” he said. 

Throughout the schools, the referendum project developed more collaborative learning spaces, upgrades to classrooms and security improvements. 

Nelson said the consolidation from three to two elementary schools has also provided a significant cost savings for the district, after Grafton Elementary School was demolished during the summer.

In addition to the schools’ academic success, the Grafton football team won its first WIAA playoff game in 20 years. Nelson also said the School Board is planning improvements to athletic fields, which are scheduled to be done this summer.

While the district is having academic and athletic success, Nelson said it’s also experiencing declining enrollment.  

“This is an area we are struggling with,” he said. “As a district, we’re excited to hear the village and town are developing single-family home projects. We want to partner with the village and the town to increase our enrollment.”   

Brunnquell spoke about future housing projects that will bring in more than 200 homes to the village. He said the village is seeking more affordable housing opportunities for younger families.

While the village is planning new development, it is also redeveloping former sites. An example Brunnquell offered is the 1505 Apartments complex at the former Lumberyard site, which was previously a blighted property. 

Brunnquell said vacant buildings such as the former Tecumseh plant have new tenants for the first time in years. He also said the village had 10 businesses open or expand in the past year.

Bartel said the town has been experiencing steady growth, including a 2% increase in its population during the last year, with 150 more residents added in the last two years. He said one of the factors of the town’s growth is the school district.  

Bartel also said the town has consistently had a sound budget and flat tax rate. The assessed value of homes and land in the town has increased by more than $100 million during the last 10 years.

He also said the town is consistently improving its local infrastructure, such as roads.

“We really want to promote the town as a place to live and stay,” Bartel said.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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