Turner ponders high school

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The Turner Board of Education is discussing the formation of an ad hoc committee which would create a timeline for building a new high school.

“This is something the board has been talking about since 2007,” Superintendent Dennis McCarthy said.

Anyone interested in joining the committee is encouraged to call McCarthy at the district office at 608-364-6372.

McCarthy noted the district is seeking community representation with plans to obtain members with connections to Town of Beloit, the district and the community at large. The ad hoc committee would begin meeting in July.

With Beloit Turner School District growing and McCarthy is concerned about a lack of space in the district. The Turner School District purchased a 40-acre parcel of land in the spring of 2010 for a future high school site. The parcel includes four acres of additional donated land. The site is south of Philhower Road and a quarter mile northwest of the current high school and middle school complex.

He said the district has been planning for a future high school for the past five years. Economic conditions, however, have caused the district to move cautiously on this project. However, increasing open enrollments to the district would help offset costs of the new high school, and the ad hoc committee is going to look more seriously at moving forward.

There have been almost 300 applicants for open enrollment in the district. In 2011-2012, the total enrollment in the district was 1,461 students, and the district has added an additional 63 students over last year alone.

McCarthy said 216 of Turner’s 1,461 students, or 14.8 percent of students, are open enrolled into the Turner district.

“As our student population has increased, we can offer more opportunities to students,” he said.

If Turner was to expand in the future, McCarthy explained that Townview Elementary, currently a third, fourth and fifth grade school, would become an early childhood education center with pre-K and kindergarten students. The district would keep Townview open and try to find a community user for a portion of the building.

Powers Elementary School would house first and second graders and be expanded from four classes per grade level, to five classes per grade level. The middle school would house grades three, four and five, and the existing high school building would house sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

“These are plans that have been discussed since 2007-08 when the original referendum was looked at. None of the planning has changed except us finding a shared use for Townview,” McCarthy said.

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