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Janesville School Board moves to cut school

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FRANK J. SCHULTZ
April 21, 2011
— The Janesville School Board appears united in the belief that one of the city’s elementary schools should be closed, with the students and staff distributed among the remaining 11 schools.

The board on Wednesday night voted 8-0 for a tentative timeline to make it happen.


The school that is chosen would no longer be used as an elementary school starting in September 2012, but it would in all likelihood be used for other purposes—possibly housing one or more charter schools, which are now in leased buildings.


No schools were mentioned. A committee of residents headed by school board member Greg Ardrey has been looking at the issue, and it will start meeting weekly in May with a goal of making a preliminary evaluation of all 12 schools by July 1.


The evaluations would be based on a long list of criteria that includes costs for maintenance and transportation, the schools’ capacities, suitability for reuse, the number of students who walk to school and the effect on the neighborhood.


Ardrey said he wanted his committee to make its decisions based on the information about each criterion, not on personal preferences.


The timeline calls for the committee and board to gather community opinions in July. The committee by Aug. 15 would recommend up to three schools for analysis of how the students would be distributed to other schools.


The committee would make a preliminary recommendation by Sept. 1, and hold hearings to gather opinions during September. A final recommendation would go to the school board for a decision in October.


Most board members seemed focused on elementary schools, but Karl Dommershausen suggested keeping all 12 elementary schools and moving the sixth grade from the middle schools to the elementaries.


Dommershausen suggested then closing one of the middle schools and using it for two charter schools as well as the district’s central office. The Educational Services Center could be sold, Dommershausen said, mentioning that there’s been interest from a potential buyer.


Superintendent Karen Schulte said after the meeting that the city has considered the ESC as a site for its new fire station. Schulte has told the city she is willing to discuss it.


Steve Sperry, director of human resources, said two middle schools, even with just grades seven and eight, would be near capacity, which raises the question of what would happen if growth occurs.


Board member Kristen Hesselbacher urged the board to “make sure this is a decision that Janesville, not just the school district, but Janesville, will live with for years to come.”



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