Voters in Beloit will weigh in on a $70-million referendum on Tuesday. If residents vote yes to the school district's request, it would mean Morgan Elementary School on the city's east side would close and another larger school would be built on the other side of Milwaukee Avenue.
"It is 16-and-a-half acres that we went into collaboration with Beloit Health System," said Superintendent Steve McNeal. "It's a place to put a showcase school, so when people drive into Beloit they see a great new school and it promotes the economic development of Beloit as a city."
He said the money would be spent on nine buildings, helping to reduce overcrowding and pay for upgrades to several schools in the district as well.
"Our roofing systems are 21 years old. Our boiler systems are pretty archaic. We need to take care of those physical needs," McNeal said. "We need to take care of them or we're going to have some real problems in the future with our buildings. At the same time, we want to do what's best educationally for our kids."
School board member Tia Johnson and former board member Pamela Charles are working with Beloiters for a Better Referendum.
"I'm not saying we don't need a referendum, I'm saying we need a better referendum," Johnson said.
The district estimates a tax increase of about $67 on a $75,000 home.
Johnson said many residents can't afford any tax increase. Charles argued that the district failed to get input from the community before putting the referendum on the ballot.
"Without a new structure being proposed for funding maintenence and a new plan for how, we won't let this happen again," Charles said. "I just don't see how right now we can give this a yes vote."
An informational meeting will be held on Thursday at the New Zion Church in Beloit. Beloiters for a Better Referendum also have planned a meeting Thursday night at Beloit Memorial Hospital.
For more information on the Beloit School District referendum, go to the district's website at http://www.beloitschools.net and the website for Beloiters For A Better Referendum at http://beloitersforabetterreferendum.blogspot.com.