May 11, 2010

Racine Unified exploring new home for its central office

The Racine Unified School District could save $1 million a year by relocating its central office to to the former Surgitek campus on the city's north side.

Unified Chief Financial Officer Dave Hazen said Tuesday the district was investigating the move. The savings would come from reduced energy bills and operations savings, he said.

District administrators met with employee group leaders Tuesday night to present the opportunity and discuss steps needed before the move.

The building - actually, a two-building campus - would provide for more efficient energy use resulting in reduced utility costs and more efficient work flow, Hazen said. The district now houses warehouse and maintenance staff in two different buildings at 2200 Northwestern Ave. One of Unified's central office buildings is three stories and the other a four-story building. The Surgitek campus, located at 3037 Mount Pleasant St., would allow these departments to be housed on a single story and in one building, providing cost savings.

Hazen said the former Surgitek and ACMI Corp. plant had suitable office space in good condition. The owner of ACMI, a medical instrument manufacturer, shut down the plant in 2007, putting 170 people out of work.

Prior to making a recommendation to the School Board, the district will conduct a feasibility study to determine cost savings as well as cost of the potential move. It will also seek input from employees and the business community and have a third-party review of the deal to make sure it actually saves money. 

The early numbers look good, Hazen said.

The cost of the building purchase would be approximately $5 million including moving costs. The move would save the district about $1 million per year and cost the district about $500,000 in loan payments for 10 to 15 years.  The district is also looking into the possible sale of the current central office building, which would offset some of the cost. 

Hazen said he was looking at the potential new home as a business decision. It would help the district save money, which is important at a time when the local school system is dealing with shrinking budgets and growing needs, he said.  

Hazen added the potential move would go through a different process than building or moving a school. While important, schools don't result in savings, he said. Moving the district's central office could free up resources to hire teachers or additional district staff. 

"They're totally different decisions," Hazen said. 

View Larger Map
Map showing the possible new home for Racine Unified's central office.

The district put out a Q&A on the potential move: 

What process is District administration using to ensure that central office relocation will actually save the District money?

     1.  Share information and begin discussions with employee groups and union leaders
  1. Seek private sector help for the feasibility study
  2. Review feasibility study with an external accounting firm to determine actual yearly cost savings associated with the relocation to the Surgitech campus
  3. Review completed feasibility study with Board of Education by July 12, 2010
  4. Ask for Board Decision at the July 19, 2010 Board meeting
  5. Reinvest cost savings into schools  ongoing

How much is this going to cost the taxpayer?
The cost of relocating the District central office will be approximately $5 million and will be paid out of current funding. The funds used to purchase this building would be paid back through the cost savings – which could be up to $1 million a year. No additional funding will be required.

Where is the District going to come up with $5 million to purchase the new building?
The building would be purchase using a loan. The loan would be paid back through yearly cost savings. No additional funding will be required.

What’s wrong with the current central office building?
The current building is energy inefficient with high utility costs. The layout of the current central office building doesn’t provide for operational efficiencies – specifically for our maintenance and operations departments. The District currently houses warehouse and maintenance staff in two different buildings; one is three stories and the other a four-story building. The Surgitech campus would allow these departments to be housed on a single story and in one building, creating operational efficiencies and cost savings. Both the operating and the utility savings could then be reinvested into our schools.

Why is the District considering the purchase of a building for central office when schools are in need of new buildings?
The District is always looking for ways to save costs and create efficiencies.  The Surgitech campus is available now and we believe that the purchase of the campus and the relocation could save the District $1 million in costs annually. If the external feasibility study and audit confirm the savings, administration would recommend to the School Board to move forward so that the District can begin reinvesting that money back into our schools.

Why not move Walden School to the vacant Surgitech campus?
In order to make a building “education-ready,” different standards are required (e.g. heating/cooling, room size, etc.). This would be very costly. In addition, as a school, this building would not see the increased work-flow efficiencies that it will as a central office building. Relocating Walden (or any) School to the new building would not allow for the cost savings we anticipate by relocating the central office there. The end goal is to reduce costs so we can invest this money back into our schools.

Where will the money the District saves go?
District administrators will consider the needs of the District and reinvest the money in a strategic way that aligns with our North Star Vision.


  1. RUSD has got to be kidding. Walden III filled with asbestos, Lead paint, a crumbling foundation, a roof they wont fix because they fear it can't handle the stress, stairs are falling apart, it has not been painted in 37 plus years, the main office has asbestos tile, rooms can't retain heat because the windows are so poorly insulated, bathrooms have not been renovated and still have fixtures from the 1920's, lockers falling off the walls, a gym floor that is warped and buckling, the staff is exposed to safety concerns daily, rooms are permanently closed because of health hazards and the schools PTSA is begging for help, yet RUSD put's it priorities and efforts to relocate the administrative offices.

    RUSD's Frank Jarosz and Dave Hazen claim there is no money to repair the facility... yet all of a sudden they find $5,000,000.00 for new administrative offices??????

    Am I the only one that sees something wrong here? This makes me absolutely irate!

  2. Keith. Deschler5/11/2010 11:08 PM

    just goes to show the inept leadership of Unified, good luck with your next referendum request!!!!

  3. And good luck trying to sell the old admin buildings. Aren't they part of the former Horlick's Malted Milk factory - parts of it also over 100 years old? So many vacant commercial buildings already around town, and businesses looking to acquire space would face the same issues the RUSD says are wrong with the current space. The admin folks want their creature comforts while the students suffer.

  4. Racine Unified could save a gazillion dollars by disbanding and letting educators educate.

  5. Did anyone else notice just how vague the justification was for cost savings? You haven't made a justification enough in my mind worthy of a decision to move your admin offices.

    Listen you folks at the Admin offices:

    Fix the schools and then you can create your temple. But until then you are digging your own grave with a lack of credibility. Just because this property is available now is no reason to jump. There will always be property available. Use the $5 million to fix the schools first. That is your mission. Do it.

  6. No, spend it on yourselves like you always do. There's plenty more money where that came from. Party on!

  7. Vote No when the referendum come up!

  8. Just when you thought you had heard it all!!!

    What's next Racine? Re-elect Gary Becker as mayor???

  9. Totally INSANE!!!! .. What are you thinking??? I cant pay my taxes the way it is now you will add more, my house value went down .. what pure stupidity .. and what about Walden III they need more help our children will have health problems by the time they are older cuz of the buildings condition...PLEASE SOMEONE QUICK SLAP RUSD UPSIDE THE HEAD FOR EVEN THINKING ABOUT THIS ..

  10. get a smaller building for the admin.and let go of some of the employees that are there now. we dont need that many employees as stated years before.forget buying surgetek. we cannot afford it...period.

  11. Now where have I heard this argument before? Oh yes.....

    But honey, it's on sale. I can save so much money.

    Ya right..... we can save much more by not buying it at all.

    RUSD, you sound like my wife. Stop trying to justify how much you are going to save by spending yourself into more debt.

  12. They sold us this on the new computers for everyone. and now they want us to believe there are no additional costs to move. What about movers? What about renovations? What about new furniture and window blinds? Puhleeeze. How in the world can they really think that they should have bright shiny offices? They should sell Northwestern ave and work out of some of the space at existing schools. Walden has a few rooms they are not using. Then I bet the schools get some attention. So how bout it Shaw and Hazen, we can move you free of charge.

  13. They have lost their minds. Energy inefficient? Students wear jackets to class. They are so out of touch with what actually is happening. Why should we invest more for administrators who are out of touch? Moving the administration building does not improve test scores, people who leave the district or drop out rates. Park High School has a stage that leaves sizable wooden splinters in the performers.

  14. You have got to be kidding me. Why waste good money on bad projects. Walden must have a good PR department. Don't let their oh poor me attitude get to you. That building needs to be torn down, and new buildings need to be built. The foundation leaks, the windows leak, the heating, plumbing, electrical, electronics aren't close to meeting any standards for a modern educational facility. The building isn't handicap accessible. Let's put our money to good use by building new schools, not into all these old maintenance headaches.

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