What Kenosha Unified’s ‘rightsizing project’ could mean for the school district

The Kenosha Unified School District plans to consolidate schools, change school boundaries, and/or merge programs for the 2024-25 school year

By Kaylee Staral

Multimedia Journalist with TMJ4

KENOSHA, Wis. — Over 100 Kenosha community members showed up at community engagement sessions Tuesday to learn more about the Kenosha Unified School District’s(KUSD) rightsizing project.

The sessions come as the district is facing declining enrollment, mainly due to a declining birth rate.

As part of the project, the district plans to consolidate schools, change school boundaries, and/or merge programs for the 2024-25 school year.

“Right now, with declining enrollment, we’re facing the choice of keeping the number of locations or reducing services,” KUSD Superintendent Jeffrey Weiss, explained. “We are doing this in order to continue to provide high services for all of our families.”

According to their website, the KUSD Board of Education contracted Davis Demographics — MGT in May 2023. The group provided a demographic study to assess how to best right-size the district.

Along with consolidating schools, the district hopes to utilize an 80% capacity rate and explore a 4K-8 grade model.

A packet passed out at the public meetings said that only five elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school in the district are operating above an 80% capacity rate.

“I’m here making sure all kids have even amount of education and there’s enough space for everyone,” Ron Hemlick, a KUSD parent, said.

The superintendent confirmed some schools will close, but did not say which ones. That decision will be made later this year based on capacity levels and the condition of the buildings.

After Wilson Elementary School closed earlier this year, some in the community are worried about how this project may impact the city.

“We’ve already experienced one school closed. Now, the potential for more schools closed. Oftentimes, they’re closed in marginalized communities,” Cyndean Jennings with the Kenosha Education Justice Coalition said.

For many other parents and staff alike, the main goal is to ensure a good quality of education for Kenosha students.

“My hope is as they look at closing or consolidating schools, that we’re making sure we’re ramping up services provided to students,” Beth Mentik, an SEL Interventionist at KUSD, said. As a counselor, she added that mental and physical services are needed now more than ever.

There are two more community engagement sessions on Wednesday. They are at the Tremper High School auditorium at 4 p.m. and the Reuther High School auditorium at 6:30 p.m.

For more information on the project and enrollment, you can visit their website.