I just attended a presentation by Imagine Beloit. Some important questions came up regarding issues involving maintenance funding, reconfiguration, and transportation. Basically, in the end, all we know for sure is that we know nothing for sure.
Someone brought up the fact that our "repurposed" schools which will be used for expelled students and charter schools will not be included in the referendum and will remain in need of repairs. This does not seem fair or responsible. These are still our students, our buildings, and the board has a responsibility to provide for each. These will be added to the wish list of "dire needs" along with Aldrich and McNeel, to be funded some day, maybe, a few years down the road. The question of what the district will do to assure we don't end up in this situation again was met with not so surprising admissions that there are no new plans to save for large ticket repairs, and the 2.3 million in projected savings seems like a loaf of bread and a fish at this point. How they will stretch such a small amount to cover more than 15 million in repairs we need right now will indeed be a miracle.
Fewer middle school aged students in each building will mean fewer opportunities. That is one of the drawbacks to this proposed configuration.They say that between all of our reconfigured middle schools, we will have four, not two, orchestras, bands, and choirs. But will they hire new teachers? That has not been discussed yet. Why? How can we vote on a proposal that still has so many unanswered questions remaining as we enter the voting booth? The truth is, just like McNeel Middle School lost its theater funding this year, it is unlikely the performing arts in the middle schools will get much attention. And this is a shame. The middle schools feed into our high school programs. Without successful middle school programs, our high school programs will definitely suffer.
The presenters tell us the district has decided to bus students who live more than two miles away, up to sixth grade. It seems unfair to tell a seventh grade student he cannot ride the bus with his 4th grade sister. This is what happens with improper planning.
The dwindling numbers of people attending presentations tells us that maybe minds are made up. But please keep all of the questions in the back of your mind this last week. It may be unreasonable to expect a 70 million dollar referendum to be perfect, but it should have at least made it through the planning stage before election day.