Kenosha Unified School District Board votes to close 6 schools

Cuts come amid declining enrollment, growing budget deficit

This March 6, 2020, file photo, shows a classroom vacant through a window at Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, R.I., as the school remains closed following a confirmed case of the coronavirus. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
This file photo shows a classroom vacant through a window at Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, R.I. David Goldman/AP Photo

Kenosha Unified School District will close six schools next year as part of a plan to close a $15 million deficit.

After meeting for five hours, a divided Kenosha School Board approved a district consolidation and downsizing plan on Tuesday, largely following th recommendations of district administratiion

The main points of contention dealt with the future of Lincoln Middle School and the alternative education program at Reuther Central High School, according to WPR partner 91.1 WGTD.

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The board narrowly voted to close Lincoln but decided to keep the Reuther program intact, but reduce the staff by 10 people.

Five elementary schools — Stocker, Vernon, McKinley, Jefferson and Edward Bain School of Language and Art-Creative Arts — will close. Students who attend the aging Washington Middle School will be moved to the Edward Bain School of Language and Art, a newer building designed for grade school students that’ll now be turned into a middle school.

The district estimates the closures and moves will save about $8 million in 2024-25, according to WGTD.

The votes came after months of study and discussion on how to deal with a sharp decline in enrollment due to a lower birth rate. KUSD’s enrollment has fallen from about 23,000 students a decade ago to fewer than 19,000 students this school year. Many other school districts around the nation are dealing with the same dilemma.

The “right-sizing” question may not have been entirely laid to rest. School Board member Todd Price said he believed that closing Lincoln — a school in the inner city with a high minority enrollment — was discriminatory and created a situation ripe for a lawsuit. Board member Eric Meadows argued that the board needed to face budgetary reality.