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Shear, Ward, Olson tabbed for Beloit Turner School Board

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Gina Duwe
April 3, 2013

— A newly-elected Beloit Turner School Board member who opposed the high school referendum said she hopes the board got the message from voters.

"I'm hoping that they want to move forward and not continuously rework this referendum," said Kimberly Ward, a parent who was elected to the school board Tuesday.

Ward was the second-highest vote-getter with 966 votes among the six candidates. Incumbents Dannie Shear and Jim Olson were re-elected, receiving 1,169 and 877 votes respectively.

The results also mean the end of a long run for incumbent Joan Stirrat, who has served on the board for 30 years. Teacher Stephen Mrizek and Stirrat rounded out the list of candidates.

Voters on Tuesday turned down a $28 million referendum for a new high school 1,350 to 647.

Ward, who campaigned against the referendum, said it's important to see it was overwhelmingly defeated.

"People definitely made a statement—'We don't want this. We don't think this is the right time.' I'm hoping my fellow board members hear that loud and clear," she said.

She said she doesn't see anything changing dramatically in the near future to bring another referendum in fall. Instead, she said, she will push for looking at other avenues to improve the quality of the district.

Olson said his next term will be more difficult than the first from a fiscal standpoint.

"We had the advantage of open enrollment students, and we could manage them in such a way that it was really very beneficial financially," he said. "But we're running out of room."

He predicts Turner will be at a competitive disadvantage as the Beloit School District completes its remodeling from its $70 million referendum. He also suspects taxes will go up as a result of the defeated referendum.

The district has two options, he said, either plan for the next referendum or "take a defensive posture, knowing what's going to come and cut costs and cut people, cut programs, as much as we can."

Shear said voters sent a strong message, but he's not upset.

"The voters are the people that put me in and the ones that have to pay for the school system," he said.

The board will have to sit back and take a look at what to do next, he said. He heard people fearful of educating more open enrollment students and others who didn't like the layout of the new school or were disappointed plans didn't include a new auditorium.



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