KUSD "Right-Sizing" Recommendations Revealed

Nov. 29, 2023 11p

(WGTD)---A plan that would displace thousands of students, shift programs, close schools and re-purpose others was laid on the table by Kenosha Unified administration Wednesday night.

The proposal was the result of months of study and was fueled by the need to downsize in light of a projected budget shortfall and declining enrollment.

The presentation was made at a special school board meeting at Reuther High School.

The board is expected to vote on the plan December 12th.

Major components include re-purposing Lincoln Middle School, moving Washington Middle to what now is the Edward Bain School of Language and Art and closing three elementary schools: Jefferson, McKinley and Edward Bain Creative Arts. Stocker and Vernon elementary schools would be repurposed. Stocker would be the new home of the district’s dual language program, and would also house a new program designed for immigrants and their families, a population that has ballooned in recent months. In addition to housing the Brompton School, Vernon would become the new home for Head Start and the Dimensions of Learning Academy charter school.

KTEC charter school’s two locations would be consolidated at what now is Lincoln Middle. The downside of that move is KTEC’s enrollment would need to be cut by 10% by accepting fewer students. The upside is Lincoln Middle is a nicer facility than KTEC’s two current homes.

At the high school level, administration recommended either one of two scenarios: Reduce staff at Reuther and attempt to keep the alternative education program there largely as is, or set up Reuther-styled programs in the district’s three comprehensive high schools.

Even if the board would implement all of the changes, the district would still be facing a sizable deficit next year, according to Superintendent Jeff Weiss. "The right-sizing does not solve our budget process--it gets us about half-way home," he said.

At the end of the meeting, outgoing board member Eric Meadows moved to accept all of the recommendations. Board member Mary Modder joined the majority in wanting to stick to the original schedule. "I'll be voting no to this because I need to process and I really would like to wait until Dec. 12th to make the vote because I know there's going to be a lot more input," Modder said before the vote. 

Wednesday night's board meeting was preceded by an hour and a half of public comment, with most of the speakers addressing the possible closure of Reuther.  

If the board would accept all of the administration's recommendations, nine buildings would be left empty: The Chavez Learning Center, current home to Head Start; the Dimensions of Learning Academy in the Uptown neighborhood, Jefferson, Jefferson Annex, McKinley, Washington and KTEC's two locations in the former McKinley Middle School and the former Lincoln Elementary School.

In addition, the plan would leave Hillcrest empty by moving that alternative education program to the empty building that once housed Wilson Elementary. Wilson was closed by the board last year.