Janesville25.5°

Turner gets 4K and sets referendum questions

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ANN MARIE AMES
February 12, 2008
— The Turner School Board answered a big question Monday night: Yes, the district will have a 4-year-old kindergarten program this fall.

The board then approved two questions voters will face in an April 1 referendum.


The district is looking at $8.6 million in upgrades to the middle/high school building, 1231 Inman Parkway, and to Powers Elementary School, 620 Hillside Drive. The upgrades would be the first phase in a long-term plan to expand and update district facilities.


If the questions are approved, construction could begin this summer.


-- Question 1: Should the district spend $6.1 million to upgrade the middle/high school and Powers buildings?


The project would include heating and air conditioning improvements, asbestos removal, parking lot expansion and repairs and renovation of the middle/high school auditorium.


“These are a lot of those things that people keep looking at and saying, ‘Why don’t we do that?’” said district Administrator Dennis McCarthy. “We’re going to do it.”


-- Question 2: Should the district spend $2.5 million, including up to $800,000 for land acquisition, to upgrade the stadium at the middle/high school?


The project would include upgrades to everything except the concession stand, which is the only thing not in “pretty rough shape,” McCarthy said.


The district does not have land in mind for purchase, but should consider buying 40 acres, McCarthy said.


Future referendum

The district has choices to fit a growing student population if voters decide they’re ready to move forward with expanding buildings:


-- Closing Townview Elementary, 2442 W. Beloit Newark Road, and building a new two-story high school behind the current middle/high school. What is now the middle/high school would then host third- through eighth-graders. The project is estimated at $41.4 million.


-- Expanding and renovating all three schools for $30.4 million.


-- Closing Townview, renovating the middle/high school and expanding Powers to hold 4K through fifth grade for $31.8 million.


4-year-old kindergarten

It was almost exactly 10 years ago that a different Turner School Board approved full-day kindergarten for the district, said Bill Beckley, director of curriculum and instruction.


He thought approval of a 4K program would be just as historic.


Sue Brandenburg, principal at Powers Elementary School, was all smiles Monday night when the school board unanimously approved the 4K program that will start in Powers this fall.


“I think this option is best for our kids at Powers,” Brandenburg said. “We all believe in early intervention.”


The district is working on a grant from the state Department of Public Instruction to fund the program, Beckley said.


Powers currently serves kindergarten through second grade.


WHAT’S NEXT

An ad hoc committee of the Turner School Board will meet at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, at the district office, 1237 Inman Parkway, Beloit. The committee will plan for a new committee to educate the public on the district’s mechanical and space needs.


School board President Norm Jacobs said he wants the educational committee to be made of residents, board members and staff. The group will be charged with educating the general public as Turner heads into an April referendum.


Anyone interested in participating should call the district office at (608) 364-6372.



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