Turner may try again on facilities

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TOWN OF BELOIT - Another referendum could be on the ballot in the School District of Beloit Turner.

School Board members will convene during a special meeting open to the public at 6 p.m. on Aug. 6 to hash out whether or not the district would like to put a referendum on the ballot once more this year.

On Monday, the school board decided to have the August special meeting to make sure they have enough time to make a decision. In order to have a referendum on the November ballot, the board would need to act by Aug. 27. Barring the board deciding to hold another special meeting, the last chance the board would have to act would be during its regular board meeting on Aug. 13.

Voters in the School District of Beloit Turner narrowly shot down a $26.8 million referendum in April. After a recount of votes, the final tally was 920 yes and 923 no. The funds would have been used to build a new second-fifth grade elementary school and improve the middle/high school's science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program. The referendum plan also would have closed Townview Elementary School and moved second graders from Powers Elementary to the new elementary school.

Superintendent Dennis McCarthy recommended the school board discuss what their intent is moving forward and what format they would like to have for a possible referendum.

"There has been a discussion around scaling back a portion of the elementary school building and reassigning those funds to the STEM piece and security upgrades," McCarthy said during the meeting.

Another idea which has been frequently discussed after the failed April referendum was making the referendum two different questions to address high school STEM upgrades and building a new elementary school. The board likely will discuss formatting at the Aug. 6 meeting.

The April referendum was guided by the Citizens Facility Study Committee. The committee was created to assess and develop a plan to address the district's security needs, operational efficiencies and updates to classrooms and infrastructure. McCarthy said he plans on inviting members of the committee to the special meeting as well.

Last month, district stakeholders toured two Wisconsin school districts that recently passed referendums: the DeForest Area School District and the East Troy Community School District.

McCarthy said during the meeting that both sites helped reaffirm how much impact making STEM upgrades can have on a district.

"It's like night and day," McCarthy said.

The school board also planned another committee meeting to discuss the possibility of bringing on a school resource officer (SRO) next year. The school board's Finance Committee met in May, the Communications Committee met in June and now the Personnel Committee will meet at 5:45 p.m. on Aug. 13, preceding the last regular school board meeting before the 2018-2019 school year kicks off. McCarthy said if the district were to move forward with the SRO position for this year, a decision would have to be made at the Aug. 13 regular board meeting.

Town and school district officials are currently in the process of drafting an agreement to establish an SRO position.

McCarthy and Brad Boll, Turner's director of business services, met with Town of Beloit administrator Ian Haas and town police chief Ron Northrop on Monday to discuss the possibility of hiring an SRO. They have set up another meeting for next week to figure out how a potential SRO would interact with the district and how the position would be funded between the school and town.

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