Moving to Beloit in 1952 and with forty plus years as a teacher, principal, central office administrator and School Board member, I had valuable experience with the challenges which confront school districts. The issue before the voters of the School District of Beloit has given me some concerns.
I oppose the referendum for a number of reasons. Planning has been lacking on the part of the administration and the Board. For example, the Board submitted an application to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) for an exemption to the revenue limit law to replace two boilers. This was denied by the DPI. The Board then attempted to substitute the replacement of the boilers with roof replacements at Aldrich and McNeel. This was denied by the DPI.
Regarding the proposed grade reconfiguration, the conclusion cited by researchers Paglin and Fager at the Northwest Educational Laboratory, was “…that designing a school system to use a particular span of grades in individual schools will not in itself guarantee that students will learn well and be well adjusted.” The National Forum, in an excerpt from the July 2008 issue of the National Forum, “To Accelerate Middle Grades Reform”, advocated the following: “Review and apply current research that suggests that simply shifting students from one type of school building to another may do little to improve student academic performance.” The bottom line; grade configuration is not what makes a difference; what is happening inside the school and classroom is what is important.
Beloit has historically supported the neighborhood schools concept. With the passing of this referendum, the bridges will have been burned and there will be no returning to those days. We will only have mega-schools which were once elementary and middle schools. While I might not agree with all being proposed by the Beloiters for a Better Referendum, I do agree with their efforts to want to be a part of Building a Better Referendum.