February 19, 2009

Caledonia / RUSD meeting to be rescheduled

The Caledonia School District Steering Committee feels it is being ignored by most members of the Racine Unified School Board.

Only two members of the RUSD board -- Dennis Wiser and Julie McKenna -- expressed interest in meeting with Caledonia residents after the Caledonia group that is working break away from Racine Unified, invited the board to its Feb. 23 meeting. Two other RUSD members -- Sue Kutz and William Van Atta -- said they were disinterested in the process, and the other five "ignored the invitation outright," according to a statement from the Steering Committee.

But Wiser and McKenna have a schedule conflict (an RUSD school board forum at the Golden Rondelle was set up after the CSD invitation was made), so the Caledonia School District Steering Committee will reschedule its meeting with them. The committee will still meet on Feb. 23 to provide information about the creation of the new district at the Caledonia Eastside Community Center, 6156 Douglas Ave., at 7:30 p.m. Petitions for the new district will be available to sign on Saturday, Feb. 21, at the center between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and on Sunday, Feb. 22, at the Caledonia-Mt. Pleasant Memorial Park, 9700 Northwestern Ave., between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The Caledonia School District Steering Committee is made up of residents of the Village of Caledonia who are working to create a new school district within the village. Members believe that a new district will benefit Caledonia and surrounding communities. They are circulating petitions throughout the Racine Unified School District to obtain the 9,600 signatures necessary to push the issue to a public referendum. More information about the group can be found at its website.

The steering committee has produced a fact sheet, Why Create a Caledonia School District. Some of its points are below, after the break:

  • Local Control: Not a single member of the Racine Unified school board is a resident of Caledonia. With our own district, all of the board members will be from our community and will be accountable to us. No more referendums will be imposed on Caledonia unless we vote for it.
  • Property Taxes: Caledonia currently pays 24% of the RUSD tax bill, and yet our students only receive 10% of the spending. With our own school district all of our tax money is spent right here in our community. That means a Caledonia district would be able to continually lower taxes once it is established. RUSD, on the other hand, will be facing large budget deficits in the coming years and will either have to raise taxes or make severe cuts.
  • Growth: In order to attract new residents and businesses, we need to provide an excellent public educational system. Caledonia students are already among the best in the state, but they are averaged in with the rest of RUSD. With our own district, our students will receive the recognition they deserve and everyone will see why Caledonia is a great place to live, work and visit.
How will this affect my property taxes? Most of the extra cost for Caledonia is the building of a new high school. New school districts also require start-up costs and are not fully funded by the state of Wisconsin until the 3rd year. The first year’s mill rate will be established at more than if Caledonia had remained with RUSD. After that, the mill rates would decline. The estimated school tax increase for a $100,000 home (with 2% property value growth and no new RUSD referendum) would be $112 the first year, $69 the second and $64 the third.

I want my child to continue in RUSD? Is this possible? Yes, Wisconsin is an Open Enrollment State. This means you can enroll your child in any school district you wish, as long as the district has space. 12th graders have the right to finish at the high school they attended regardless of space.

What happens to the school buildings located within Caledonia? The new Caledonia school district would receive all the schools in Caledonia: Olympia Brown, North Park, Caddy Vista and Gifford School. In addition, a large parcel of land near 5 ½ and Charles would be included in the asset/liability split with RUSD.

How much will a new school district cost Caledonia residents? According to the June 2008 WisTax study, the new Caledonia district would net approximately $44 million after the asset/liability split with RUSD. However, a new high school would be needed. The average cost of a new high school is $65 million; this amount can be bonded over several years.

Who are you and where can I get more information? We are a group of concerned citizens who would like to see Caledonia thrive and continue to attract new residents and businesses. In order for this to happen, we need strong schools and involved citizens that want ownership in their community schools.


  1. Using their numbers, the first year tax on a $250k house would be $280 - which is more than the currently pay for unified - by their own statement.

    Talk about greed and selfishness. This is nothing more than the rich white folks in Caledonia wanting to keep their privileged brats away from the poor black folk from Racine.

    Pretty sad stuff coming from the party founded to abolish slavery.

  2. Just wait until Unified has another referendum next year. Then see how the numbers match up.

    I want better for my children. By better, I do not mean seperating them from "poor black folk" (how ignorant is that comment by the way?) My children are all in RUSD and I am very involved in the schools. My son had some problems at Horlick & my husband & I had a meeting with a Principal there. Nothing was done. Our phone call was ignored, our e-mails asking for an update were ignored. Finally after 2 weeks my husband gets a call back & do you know what the lame excuse was??
    "Sorry. I put your son to the bottom of my pile because I had more pressing issues. I was dealing with some kids with drug issues." WAKE UP RACINE!!! This is why kids are falling through the cracks. Our highschools are over populated. There are too many kids for the staff to keep track of. I do not want my kids in a school that the staff is telling me they are unimportant. LET CALEDONIA GO!!!!!

  3. RUSD can only get 50% of the Black and Hispanic kids to complete school. If I had a choice I would not have sent my kids to RUSD. We are making sure our grand kids do not go to the wasteland called RUSD.

  4. Anon 6:18
    The figures represent the INCREASE for a $100,000 house (if such exists) over what the tax would be if the village secedes.

  5. The way out of poverty is through a very good education! RUSD has done a VERY POOR job educating the children, based on the dropout rate, state wide testing and employers hiring Racine graduates. The neighboring school districts such as Oak Creek and Union Grove no longer want children from RUSD they often are very far behind. Why is it so wrong to want something better for the neighborhood children. Each of the communities need to look at what is the best way to educate the children. They are inheriting a financial mess that the current adults have created. We owe it to them to get them well educated!

  6. Imagine that - a community joining and working together to decide for themselves what is best for themselves. I think there's a term for that, but it slips my mind at present . . . uh, de, de, um... oh, yeah: democracy.

  7. I certainly understand Caledonia wanting to go it alone. Um, good luck! Unified DOES have problems - so, really, is it fair for Caledonia to demand our school board take time away from those very same issues? And well, if our school board's participation was so important in their decision making, WHY would you schedule your meeting at the exact same time as one of theirs?

    As for Caledonia not being represented on the school board - how is that RUSD's fault?

  8. UglyOldWitch: Don't blame the Caledonia folks for the schedule snafu; their meeting was scheduled first. I should have made that clear in the story ... and will do so now.

  9. I live in Caledonia and my child is not of public school age anymore; however, I saw what he went through years ago in the RUSD school system. And, it had NOTHING to do with race. It had everything to do with overcrowding and lack of educators. Why would ANYONE argue help for our children and our future? We are not rich, our child was not privileged. We are working class and work HARD for all we have. We as middle-age people are willing to pay higher taxes for our future - the children. We need to do whatever it takes to help our future (the children) succeed. We think the economy is scary now? How about 20 years from now when the uneducated are forced to run the country because people NOW won't think outside the box. Sorry, off the soapbox now...frustrated.

  10. Don't forget to come to the petition drive today. You should have received a flyer in the past week on your mailbox.

    Come to Caledonia-Mt. Pleasant Memorial Park. 9700 Northwestern Ave. Franksville 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
    (If you haven't signed up already)

  11. For those who wish to see a Caledonia School District go forward to a public vote, there is a petition drive going on TODAY! You can sign the petition and support a new school district in Caledonia:

    Caledonia-Mt Pleasant Memorial Park
    9700 Northwestern Ave (Highway K)
    10:00am - 2:00pm

    9,600+ signatures are needed. More info is available at http://www.caledoniaschooldist.org

  12. I challenge all of you that are against this to visit our schools that are currently under the control of RUSD. Our son is attending Horlick (at his choice) We sent him to a catholic school from K-8th. When I visit the school I see an environment similar to a detention center vs a school. The teachers and staff spend much of their time dealing with discipline and crime related issues. Many of the students have little to no parental involvement in their education. I would bet you that the Caledonia students are those that are attending class on a regular basis. They are not attending because of their race, but because there is more parental involvement. At a time where education is very important (did you listen to our president last night?) we must make education the priority. I would gladly give up the extra $ to create an environment where kids that want to learn are able to. I want my children to go to a school where the teachers and staff are their mentors, not their babysitter and parole officers.

  13. I have been a lifelong Racine resident and graduated from RUSD. I live in Caledonia and now that my kids are nearing "school age" (2 & 6 months) We have our house FOR SALE because we DO NOT want to send our kids to RUSD. It is SO SAD because we love our neighborhood and our home. It is unfortunate that a lot of the kids in our neighborhood don't even know one another because they are all farmed out to differnt schools. I hope we don't have to move and can remain in Caledonia.