TOWN OF BELOIT
The Beloit Turner School Board president sounded confident when he spoke Monday about a $26.8 million referendum voters will face April 3.
“We think we have listened and come up with a good plan,” John Turner told about 30 people at Townview Elementary School. “We’re trying to be really transparent with you.”
The public meeting was held to address the proposed referendum, which, if approved, would close Townview and pave the way for a new $24.9 million elementary school.
The referendum would raise taxes around $99 a year on a $100,000 property.
The new school would open up more space in Powers Elementary School by moving second grade into the new building, which would house second through fifth grades.
The remaining referendum funds would augment the science, technology, engineering and math programs at the middle school and high school while creating new metals and wood shops and a fabrication lab equipped with 3-D printers.
The referendum was recommended by the Beloit Turner School District’s Citizens’ Facility Study Committee. A wide range of residents from in and outside the district assessed each building and suggested closing Townview Elementary.
The committee advised closing Townview because the building has a dilapidated septic system, no access to high-speed internet and a gymnasium that doubles as a cafeteria.
A survey conducted by research firm School Perceptions showed 53 percent of 861 respondents approve of closing Townview.
Superintendent Dennis McCarthy said if voters review the studies and learn about the proposed solutions, “they will see why this solution is a logical solution for the district.”
Bob Hale, a lifelong town of Beloit resident, disagreed.
“They haven’t convinced me why the building can’t be here,” Hale said after the meeting at Townview. “I don’t know why. I really don’t. I’m looking at the building. The location here is great.”
Even after the studies were presented, Hale said that as of now, he’ll vote against the referendum.
“I’m just trying to get them to convince me to pay the money,” he said. “I don’t have the answer yet.”
Turner said this plan is different from the failed referendum in 2013 that would have built a new high school.
“Five years ago, there was a lot of doubt about whether the economy would recover from 2008,” Turner said. “That was 10 years ago. I think the economy is better than it was five years ago.”
Superintendent Dennis McCarthy agreed, adding the process and the community input made the difference.
The new school would occupy about a third of a 45-acre parcel northwest of Beloit Turner High School, and the district already owns the land.
Tuner said the long-term future of the district begins with this referendum.
“We’ve got needs as far as security,” Turner said. “We need to update our gymnasium. If this passes, this is the first step.”