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School District of Beloit Gives Final Push Before Voters go to the Polls

BELOIT — After sending out surveys to the community, holding several community meetings and reaching out individually to people, officials at the School District of Beloit are hoping they have convinced many people to vote for their referendum proposal.

Beloit Superintendent Willie Garrison II spoke Wednesday at the final community meeting before the April 2 vote regarding the referendum. The meeting at the Kolak Education Center was attended by school staff, some school board candidates and several residents.

The wording of the referendum is as follows:

“Shall the School District of Beloit, Rock County, Wisconsin be authorized to exceed the revenue limit specified in Section 121.91, Wisconsin Statutes, by $9,000,000 per year for each of the 2024-2025, 2025-2026, and 2026-2027 school years, for non-recurring purposes, consisting of operational and maintenance expenses including: staff compensation and benefits, to maintain district facilities, to maintain current course offerings, programming and class sizes, and for instructional resources and special education?”

After a failed referendum last April, school district officials say it is more important than ever to get community support for the latest referendum request.

Garrison said the school district currently has a property tax mill rate of $3.96, which is the lowest among area schools. If the referendum is approved, the Beloit mill rate will be $6.11 and it still will be lower than most area districts, with the exception of Parkview. He noted the average mill rate among Rock County school districts is $7.09. Beloit Turner’s mill rate is $6.83, Clinton’s mill rate is $10.84, Evansville’s is $7.69, Edgerton’s is $7.52 and Milton’s is $7.49.

Beloit’s mill rate was at $11.56 in 2013 and it has gradually declined over the years. It was $10.10 in 2021 and it dropped to $4.78 in 2022, according to district figures.

Garrison said school officials probably should have sought support from the public at that time, but the district has experienced a great deal of change-over at top leadership positions. In the past 11 years, the Beloit district has had 17 different superintendents.

“There has been a lack of stability in key positions,” Garrison said. “Superintendents are the ones who monitor such factors as mill rates.”

Funding will be spent as follows if the referendum is approved:

- $2.25 million for staff compensation

- $2.25 million to maintain facilities

- $2.5 million for programing and instruction resources

- $2 million to maintain current course offerings

“There are still adjustments that we ill have to make along the way,” Garrison said, noting the district still will be looking at ways to reduce expenditures and save money.

If the referendum does not pass, the district will be facing $10.8 million in budget cuts, Garrison said. He noted that would be a district-wide budget cut of 10%.

He said he hopes the community will support the school district, the staff and the students.

“This will help maintain our current services. We are not interested in cutting programs and taking opportunities away from our students,” he said.


Source: Beloit Daily News