, ,

Closed Kenosha schools targeted for affordable housing

Kenosha Unified closed 6 schools this month as district faced $15M deficit

An empty classroom
An empty classroom is pictured at the MHS, Meo High School private college, in Paris on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. Francois Mori/AP Photo

When Kenosha students left for summer vacation, it was the last time six of the district’s oldest buildings would be used as schools.

Now, Stocker, Vernon, McKinley, Jefferson, Edward Bain School of Language and Art-Creative Arts and Lincoln Middle School could provide affordable housing for Kenosha residents under a plan being considered by the school board and city officials. 

The Kenosha Unified School District board approved a district consolidation and downsizing plan in December to tackle a $15 million deficit. 

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The closures come at the same time city officials are looking for ways to provide residents with more housing. 

Patrick Finnemore, school district facilities director, said the vacant school buildings could end up drawing more people — and essentially more children — to Kenosha.

He said vacant buildings aren’t good for a community, so working with the city makes sense.

“Each site has been looked at to see what the best opportunity is for redevelopment,” Finnemore said. “In some cases, it might be apartments or condominiums. In other cases, it’ll be tearing it down and redeveloping the site.” 

Finnemore said the average age of the buildings is exactly 100 years old. 

“They’re old, old, multi-story buildings with no elevators and no central air conditioning,” he said. 

Closing the schools will save the district about $9 million. Finnemore said selling the buildings should help the district close the rest of its deficit. 

Kenosha Mayor David Bogdala said specific details are still being worked out and will need to be approved, but the schools are in older neighborhoods in the city that have been a focus for a long time. 

“There is a huge need for housing of all sorts, and that is something that we’re really trying to address, Bogdala said.

This isn’t the first time Kenosha schools have been repurposed. But it’s the largest transaction. 

The former Weiskopf School was turned into affordable housing. And Bain School is now Kenosha’s fire station #1. 

Related Stories