Nov. 15, 2023 12:30p
(WGTD)---No clear winners or losers emerged in discussions between Kenosha School Board members Tuesday night as school closing and consolidation options were laid out by administration.
A lower birth rate has left the district with so few students that nine of its buildings are less than half full. If nothing is done, the district is expected to face a $15 million budget deficit in 2025.
Ten schools were mentioned as possible candidates for closure under various scenarios.
One option would discontinue the alternative education program at Reuther High School, replacing it with scaled-down Reuther-styled programs at the district’s comprehensive high schools.
Board member Mary Modder wasn’t enthralled. “I guess I just sort of question whether or not the savings is worth the cost,” Modder said to applause from the audience. “We want the students to succeed.”
Administrators made clear it’s a balancing act that includes consideration of enrollment projections, a building’s utilization rate, maintenance needs, busing costs and just how many students would be displaced by having to adjust boundaries.
Administrator Marty Pitts, in his comments, referred to a projected $15 million budget deficit for next year if nothing is done. “There have been times when we’ve had to close schools,” he said. “There is an emotional toll that comes with that…I can tell you that there is no one sitting at this table who enjoys this process. But we can’t ignore the fact that it’s our responsibility to use taxpayer dollars wisely.”
One proposal would move Washington Middle School to the Edward Bain School of Language and Art, where a K-through-8 model would be created. That option would result in the closure of Grant, Jefferson, McKinley and Vernon elementary schools.
Another school board meeting on the topic will be held Wednesday, Nov. 29th at Reuther. The board is expected to make final decisions at its December 12th meeting.