Beloit voters approved the School District of Beloit’s $70 million building referendum in Tuesday’s election, giving the plan a solid 53 percent of the tally.
There were 2,888 yes votes, compared to 2,543 no votes.
“It’s an exciting time for Beloit. The school district is ready to take Beloit to the next echelon,” said Beloit School Board President Shannon Scharmer.
Referendum proponents were celebrating their hard-fought victory at The Rock restaurant Tuesday evening. Scharmer said she wished to thank the citizens who voted in favor the referendum and the support given by the Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce, Beloit City Council, Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation, Beloit 2020, various business partners and other supporters.
“Without their support and their beliefs in what Beloit can be, we would never have been successful in the passing of the referendum,” Scharmer said. “The passage of this referendum will allow the Beloit school district to offer outstanding facilities as we offer educational opportunities.”
Superintendent Steve McNeal said he was happy and relieved with the news, noting the school district would have been in financial trouble with all the necessary building repairs looming. With Tuesday’s referendum passage, he said the school district is heading in a progressive direction and will have outstanding facilities. He stressed the district will prove to the voters it will do a great job with the money the taxpayers entrusted to it.
McNeal said the tireless service of Imagine Beloit volunteers such as Matt and Sarah Roegner, Steve and Heidi Eldred, Jeremy and Holly Flanagan and many others helped in the referendum’s successful passage.
“From the beginning, the whole group was tirelessly working for this and really embraced the idea this was needed in our city,” McNeal said.
As of Tuesday evening, McNeal already had talked to architects and noted they will be coming to the school board meeting on Tuesday to discuss possibilities for contract managers.
Matt Roegner, a volunteer with Imagine Beloit, said the business community figured out right away the referendum was just as much about Beloit as the school district.
“We are going to see a transformation of our community,” Roegner said.
“I’d like to thank everyone who worked so hard to get the facts out to the voters — that was the key. The referendum package sold itself on its merits. As long as you took the time to see what the facts were, it sold itself,” Roegner said.
Although Beloiters for a Better Referendum organizer Pam Charles had concerns about the referendum, she said the important thing now is for everyone on both sides of the issue to come together.
“Get informed and involved to make the schools the best they can be,” she said.
Charles said those on both sides of the issue were passionate about education and children, but she saw a different way to go.
“Hopefully, the best will come of this and we can all work together to make the best of our school district,” she said.
In the referendum, the School District of Beloit is proposing to upgrade seven facilities and build two new 4-8 grade intermediate schools.
McNeal said the new proposed intermediate schools and the grade reconfiguration will have many advantages such as larger teaching teams at each grade level, allowing more collaborative opportunities and helping students and parents develop more involvement by staying at the same school for five years.