State and local officials are celebrating a new school for teenage girls who have gotten into trouble and the consolidation of a school for troubled teenage boys. Wisconsin will save $23 million a year by closing two juvenile facilities in Waukesha County and Racine County and moving offenders to the two schools on the grounds of the Lincoln Hills school for boys in Irma.
The state transferred 100 boys from the former Ethan Allen school, which it closed, to Lincoln Hills over the past few months. The last group arrived June 14. Lincoln Hills now has a population of 241 boys.
The corrections department built the new Copper Lake school for girls and moved 12 girls who had been staying at the former Southern Oaks Girls School in Union Grove. It is the first time girls will be housed on the Lincoln Hills campus since 1994.
Lawmakers approved the changes in the state budget that Governor Walker signed into law on Sunday.
The consolidation will help manage decreasing populations and save counties tens of millions of dollars each year in juvenile housing costs.
Most of the employees at the two former schools were able to get jobs at the new schools or elsewhere in state government. The corrections department is working with 34 employees who were laid off in the process.
And corrections officials have quadrupled the number of regularly scheduled bus trips to the schools to provide more opportunities for families of offenders. Families can also visit their son or daughter using videoconferencing equipment in their home county.