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Now that the $128 million Racine Unified referendum has been approved, separating from the District might prove a little less financially daunting to those leading the charge for an independent Caledonia school district.

Brian Dey, chief organizer for a new school district, told Racine County Eye after the Nov. 4 election that the referendum’s approval could mean good things if his group’s efforts are successful.

“It’s wonderful that the community rallied around the school district because that would be less money we have to spend in the long term,” he said. “In a lot of ways, Unified did the legwork for us.”

Dey came to his conclusion based on a formula that determined Caledonia would be entitled to 24 percent of Racine Unified’s assets after liabilities and taxes are taken into account.

The referendum totals $128 million – $8.5 million annually for 15 years – that will pay for various repairs, upgrades, maintenance, and technology improvements at every school in the district. Three of those buildings are in Caledonia, and plans include:

  • Replace Olympia Brown because repairs are too costly;
  • Add onto Gifford to expand to a K- 8 school; and
  • Address a list of needs at North Park.

“It’s a win-win because of the asset-liability split we may end up with the city paying for the repairs to our buildings,” he added. “The needs are there, and my only problem was the length of time because the tax reduction can really only be guaranteed for the first year.”

Dey acknowledges his math could be off, and final numbers will depend on a new financial feasibility study from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance to update figures first compiled in 2008. Dey said he expects the $30,000 price tag to come in lower because WisTax already has the formulas.

“Now it’s just a matter of plugging in the updated numbers,” he added.

Racine County Eye left messages for Racine Unified Board President Dennis Wiser and Vice-president Chris Eperjesey, but those calls have not yet been returned. We will update this story after we hear from them.