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Kenosha Unified School District Rightsizing Decisions Finalized

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Kenosha Unified School District
(File Photo by Kenosha County Eye)

On Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023, the Kenosha Unified School District Board of Education voted to close EBSOLA-Creative Arts, Jefferson, McKinley, Stocker and Vernon elementary schools; close Lincoln Middle School and move Washington Middle School to the EBSOLA building; and reduce the Reuther Central High School staff by approximately 10 full-time equivalent positions.

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These changes were recommended following eight months of a rightsizing process implemented to help offset an estimated $15MM budget deficit for the 2024-25 fiscal year, which consists of a structural deficit, increased health insurance costs, the loss of ESSER funding, and potential salary schedule movements. KUSD, like many districts, has been facing declining enrollment for many years, mainly due to a declining birth rate, and will be impacted by this trend for at least the next decade. In addition, per pupil increases from the state have fallen short of inflation.

Kenosha Superintendent Dr. Jeff Weiss (D)
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

“This was a long, difficult process that will have a major impact on our community,” KUSD Superintendent Dr. Jeff Weiss said. “We are thankful for those who volunteered to serve on the committee to research, brainstorm and analyze scenarios, as well as those who offered ideas, thoughts and comments along the way that allowed us to refine the final recommendations. This has been a huge undertaking and we could not have done this without the support of all those involved.”

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KUSD School Board President Yolanda Santos (D)
(File Photo by Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

“Even though we made a concerted effort to impact the fewest students possible, the decisions we made last night were hard,” KUSD School Board President Yolanda Adams said. “Unfortunately, our district is currently built for 23,000 students, but is funded for fewer than 19,000, and we cannot continue to operate at that level without negatively impacting the services we provide our students.”

The approved changes will be implemented at the start of the 2024-25 school year. For additional information about the rightsizing process, visit kusd.edu/rightsizing.

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Author

  • Kevin Mathewson

    Kevin Mathewson is a disciple of Christ, husband and a father to two wonderful children. Mathewson was born and raised in Lake County, IL and worked as a police & fire dispatcher from 2005 to 2010 in Round Lake Beach, IL. Mathewson moved to Kenosha County in 2006, later being elected to the position of Alderman of the 8th District in 2012 and 2016. Mathewson is a private investigator, security contractor, journalist, and photographer. He enjoys spending time with his family, watching movies, camping and boating. His favorite amendment is the second, followed closely by the first. He loves his country and community.

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43 Responses

  1. There may be some political fallout here and perhaps there should be.

    Parents, teachers and students impacted by this feel that they were not heard. Even though they were allowed to speak at length last night the board moved forward and essentially rubber stamped the plan despite significant community concerns.

    For example, two of the newest elementary schools, Bain and Stocker, are being closed and repurposed. Bain, which was not designed to be a middle school and is in an inconvenient location for that purpose, will become the new Washington Middle School to replace the aging Sheridan Road facility. Lincoln Middle School, which historically serves both some of the wealthiest and poorest neighborhoods in the city, is done. KTEC will move into its building. Reuther Alternative High School will suffer a staff reduction. This is on top of other closures.

    The board may argue, with some plausibility, that times are changes and difficult decisions needed to be made. What they failed to own up to is their own dereliction and that of the present and past school administrations. These trends did not happen overnight. Where was the planning which is the part of any good business (and, yes, government is a business)? Did they seriously think that school buildings last forever and may not need to be replaced? Proper business management is to set aside funds for the purpose of maintaining, updating and replacing facilities. The KUSD board and administrators historically failed to adequately plan for the future. The “just in time” crisis mode they operate in is costly and divisive. While blaming the legislature, declining enrollments and what have you they deflect blame from their own failures. Instead of prudent business practices over the years they browbeat taxpayers from crisis to crisis. And now they’ve ramrodded the fruit of this mismanagement down the throats of parents, students, teachers and taxpayers. This is on top of things such as salacious and inappropriate books in school libraries and the list of employees who’ve been caught engaging in questionable and/or illegal conduct. These things didn’t happen overnight. And they shouldn’t be ignored.

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    1. Where was CUSH? Certainly dismantling critical inner-city infrastructure and services should be of interest to them.

  2. This board essentially is closing a bunch of schools, creating over crowding in the remaining schools because they don’t know how to balance the budget. Class sizes are going to explode. Nobody wins, not even the tax payers.

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    1. The taxpayers never win against and over-inflated budget. It’s nice to see some spending cuts for once.

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      1. The administration always wins, even more than the teachers. The administration is always bloated with high salaries and huge end of employment payouts. End these! They also have many specific people to “support” each subject such as a math curriculum advisor. Why not get rid of all of them and have more people actually help the students that are struggling the most learning to read. The math teachers can have a meeting on teacher’s institute day and discuss any possible changes that might be necessary.

    2. Not true, unless you count buildings operating closer to their capacity as being overcrowded. If you have not actually read the report that these actions are based on, you really should. There are some schools barely operating over 50% of capacity and I think there were only two or three that were over 80% capacity. This didn’t happen overnight but the deficit will be hitting us overnight and the survey showed that enrollments are going to continue to go down. We can finger point all day, but we can’t continue to have school buildings so underutilized that we can delete a half dozen of them and still fit the rest into existing buildings. Would I find very distressing is how relatively new some of those buildings are and how much we have spent in the recent past to fix roofs and put in energy efficient windows in buildings that will now be much tighter energy wise since all the doors and windows will be bolted shut.

      1. Oh Edna, you know your pension, future jobs, and sanity would be in a better position without the Union.

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    1. Governor Walkers intent was to lessen taxpayer financial burden by implementing act10. Unfortunately the Democrats are in litigation to overturn it.

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      1. Again. It was already ruled as constitutional several years ago by the Court. Now that they have a liberal majority, it is on their short list of things already litigated and lost.

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  3. Same people complaining are the same ones that cried for virtual schooling and supported people like Yolanda. They always flip sides when the agenda isn’t met, then call others hypocrites. You idiots voted and protested for this

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  4. How many of the administrators at the central office are they planning to cut? With less students and schools they should have less to do.

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  5. The way the teachers are getting arrested and hanging with the kids, should trim enough fat soon enough. Kusd is a joke

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  6. I get that funds are tight, we are all facing financial challenges but I have real concerns for the disruption the families will face. These families & kids deserve a quality education and based on scores they aren’t getting it. No one that is part of the problem seems to pay the price for their failures, kids shouldn’t have to shoulder the failures of adults. Why aren’t they looking at cutting the fat at the top? Based on my
    observations there sure appears to be way too much “management” in our district.

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    1. Sounds good on the surface, but you’re just flapping your gums with red Eric in reality some administrative jobs are going away, that’s already been stated, but the amount of students we have aren’t immediately going out of the area anytime soon so we will have to normalize the existing numbers and there aren’t going to be much in the way of staff reductions other than a few janitorial positions. Just going to the same amount of students in less schools won’t reduce staff because you’ll still have x number of students per assistant principal or principle and you may end up with two classrooms being used for the same grade level which means two separate teachers will be needed to teach them.

  7. No one will ever know how much of these supposed money shortfalls are a result of the economy and demographic changes are due to gross errors and incompetence.
    Societal changes have exposed school board incompetence and unfortunately the children/students will pay the price.

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    1. Complete BS and more empty rhetoric, we know exactly how much of the money shortfalls are a result of the economy, zero we know how much is a result of demographic changes all of them we know how much of them are due to gross errors and incompetence that would be all of them over time, but how much time are you willing to take as blame for yourself. The clowns we’ve had on the school board for years can be asked why they made no preparations but that has nothing to do with the physical buildings or any other decisions that have been put off and put off and put off

  8. It’s time to attach & give the thousands of dollars in taxes per child, to the child. Let the families decide where to educate their children. Giving it to this mostly corrupt school district is not working anymore. There are creative ideas aplenty for education. Many gov systems need to be dismantled. Let’s start with these indoctrination centers. It’d be fun to watch.









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  9. Schools have closed before.Sucks to lose your neighborhood school.Parents might have to step up and get your ass up 10 minutes earlier,grab the neighbor kid,stuff a poptart down their throat and move on.

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  10. How about the super expensive score board at Indian trail that was paid for. Instead of other things the district could have put the money towards the students.

  11. Lower birth rate….anything to do with abortions?
    Accept that many are pursuing better education elsewhere.
    Focus on reading, writing and arithmetic and eventually your numbers will likely go up.
    STOP paying high salaries to an administration that has failed our children. Students who are graduated who cannot read well, will fail to thrive.

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    1. My theory of why the birth rate is decreasing is because the middle-class can’t afford to have babies due to all the economic and political issues our country has been facing for the last 15 years: housing crisis, bailouts, Obamacare, higher taxes, inflation, not to mention the ever increasing costs for medical care. Unless you’re upper-class with good insurance and enough money, or lower-class and eligible for medical benefits from the state, who can afford to bring anymore kids into this world these days? 😑

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      1. Contributing to the declining birth rate is men banging other men and women banging other women.
        Seems like teachers are more responsible for a declining birth rate than most other professions.

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      2. Also doesn’t help that all the real men are gone. They’ve been replaced by Xbox-playing basement dwellers who don’t get out long enough to even meet a woman, let alone know how to court and take care of one.

  12. So you close Washington and Lincoln and send the kids to Bain, which is not built for MS. Keep Lincoln open and combine the two. Use Bain for KTEC. Bain is only a few blocks from Lincoln anyway! Stocker is still somewhat new and should continue.
    What I see is the district is moving west.
    What happens if there is an increase in student population? How long will it take to change things?

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    1. What happens if the government completely breaks down and no one gets to steal my money to brainwash children anymore? Onoes!

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    2. There won’t be any increase in student population for the foreseeable future, but you can rest assured that they will continue to not be prepared for it, just like they haven’t for the last 25 years.

  13. It’s quite amusing when the bureaucracy gets so big that it can no longer run itself. Time to teach your children yourself, and fuck the forced brainwashing that the school system provides anyway.

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    1. Yes, good riddance. We need to break out of this “send your kids away so someone else can baby sit and teach them” mentality.

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    2. “when the bureaucracy gets so big that it can no longer run itself.”
      Probably the best description of most public school administration and school boards.

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  14. The article says “our district is currently built for 23,000 students, but is funded for fewer than 19,000”, but doesn’t say how many are currently enrolled. It also refers to national statistics of a declining birth rate, but doesn’t mention that the population of Kenosha is increasing, or that Wisconsin spends well above the national average per student, or that academic test results are not good and falling. The enrollment rate in KUSD is not declining because there are fewer school aged children; there aren’t. It’s declining because more parents are choosing to take their children out of public schools and put them in private schools or homeschool them. We all know the reasons why.

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    1. Kevin, do we know what the current enrollment is? I looked last night but didn’t find current numbers. Also, do we know how many full time (or equivalent) job positions were cut? Were any of them TEACHING positions in the district, including but not limited to Reuther? Thanks.

  15. It’s comical to me that just a year ago all the liberals were petitioning for Adam’s to be re elected, cried, protested that schools close during Covid and conduct virtual. Called names to other parents that had child care issues, acted like children, idiots like Joel arrested. And now the same ones are calling out Adam’s and NOW concerned about parents time traveling to other schools. The hypocrisy is real and you should look In the mirror

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  16. One of the dissenting votes to closing them cried “if I were a parent I would sue the district”. I cant stand that person but I agree with the statement. There needs to be an audit on the financials because something is just not right. They were flooded with esser funds and im sure they found ways to spend it regardless of what it was meant for. They raised the tax levy again. In 2020, and I wish I had the article still, but they bragged in the paper about saving $500,000 because they forced virtual learning the buildings weren’t being used. My mom recently retired from there and she couldn’t wait to get out. She told me the schools were closing and the decision was already made well before the meeting from people she still talks to. I wouldnt doubt that raises were more than likely handed out as well to administration. The kids and parents in these districts are really being screwed. They might save money on the buildings closing but now bussing is going to increase to get them to school. They should sell all those chrome books they splurged on.

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    1. Fiscally confused by the so called fiscally responsible district who always cries poor and blames everyone but themselves says:

      I was shocked at the gaslighting of administrators to the school board’s questions regarding the actual costs. They did not have answers for the cost of bussing, upkeep of empty buildings, and value of land they owned. The cost was in bundles only. In addition, why wasn’t the John Hosmanek building closure even contemplated? Guess we must keep the building is named after a womanizing superintendent who had numerous affairs with secretaries at the ESC open so that administrators can continue to lie and stick together united. I’m not accusing anyone now of the immoral scandals of that distant time, but the protection of themselves, secrecy and defensiveness continues to this day. The survey that was sent for the illusion of input was laughable. The district likes to cry poor and brag about being fiscally responsible by bundling numbers and not breaking down costs. I don’t think this will save any money. The board asked some very basic questions in their queries that were not answered. I agree there needs to be an independent audit. I want to know the administrative costs compared to other districts! Why are our teachers getting such a low raise while other districts are not? What is the cost of keeping an empty building? I have heard empty buildings really deteriorate quickly. Smoke, mirrors, and lies. Cut. Everything but themselves and their building.

  17. Kusd is not thinking at all about the children, teachers, or staff members. The most important people in all this is the kids! Closing all these schools is not going to help, the children are not going to get the education that they need because there’ll be more in the classes already seen it. Think of all the children and their education not yourselves!

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