BELOIT — Beloit School District Superintendent Willie Garrison gave a reconfiguration presentation on grade bands to the board of education Tuesday to update the community and board members about the proposed changes.
The administration has recommended that the school district return to the previous configure for the 2023-2024 school year. This configuration involves 4K-5th grade in elementary school, 6th-8th grade in middle school, and 9th-12th grade in high school.
Garrison acknowledged that many parents and community members were unhappy with the configuration of schools.
This general dissatisfaction led to the conclusion in the 2017-2018 school year that a reconfiguration was necessary, but unfortunately all plans were halted by administrative changes and the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To see if the public’s attitude on reconfiguration remained the same, Garrison engaged in several forms of community outreach, including hosting three Reconfiguration Steering Committee meetings in January and distributing a survey for family and staff. The survey, which accrued 1,377 participants, showed that nearly half of all participants still wanted to return to the previous school configuration.
“The school district administration would like to thank you for your input and overall support during this unprecedented time in our district,” Garrison said. “It will be a challenge to make this transition, but with the dedication of us all working together, this needed change for our community will be achieved.”
Data revealed at the meeting showed that student enrollment has declined over the past seven years, and the Department of Public Instruction has confirmed the projected enrollment decline in the upcoming year. Apart from dissatisfaction with the curriculum, the board discussed other reasons for declining enrollment, including a census report that shows a declining population in Beloit.
Staffing has remained consistent over the years, and the building capacity for each school district building allows for more student presence. This supports one of the guiding principles discussed by the Reconfiguration Steering Committee (RSC), which is to maximize school capacity.
The RCS is a committee made up of parents, staff, administrators, and other members of the community who discussed ideas and thoughts about the reconfiguration. Other guiding principles include maintaining fiscal responsibility and improving academic outcomes while focusing on implementing the new configuration before the next school year.