The Caledonia Village Board voted 4 to 0 in favor of supporting the Racine Area Manufacturers and Commerce‘s intent to form a governing body to help create a master plan of education for Racine County.
The village board voted on the resolution after hearing a presentation by Dominic Cariello, director of manufacturing and operations for the flow instrumentation group of Badger Meter Inc. A Racine native, Cariello also serves on the board for RAMAC.
The intent of the master plan of education, which would be written by a governing body, is to “provide aid and input from the business community” and “not to dictate how educators teach school courses,” according to the resolution. Cariello emphasized the need for continuous process improvement goals, aligning resources, engaging the entire community to change their mindset to focus on the future of the district, and let educators educate.
“They are the educators, let’s hold them accountable but they have the degrees and let’s let them do what they do… this is what we are paying them to do,” he said.
Racine Unified has looked at implementing a block schedule/academy model since Sept. 2014, but officially rolled out the plan in December. The model features academies that focus on business, engineering, arts and sciences and several pathways that students can choose. However, students would have eight 90-minute periods divided over the course of two days versus eight 51-minute periods in a day. The new schedule would also allow for more electives.
Some teaching staff, students, and parents have voiced the need for the school district to gain more feedback from the community and staff before implementing it. Aaron Eick, president of the REA-REAA teachers’ union, criticized the district’s block scheduling/academy implementation plan saying that he would like to see the plan implemented in the 2017-2018 school year, not the 2016-2017 school year.
“Rockford proves that the academies can be successful without block. Educators must be engaged for a year to adapt curriculum and instruction to the new format. We are only asking for sanity in the process,” Eick said.
Still, Cariello made an argument for having the block scheduling.
“Let me tell you, block scheduling is important. The academies need the block scheduling. Yes there is training that the teachers have to have and they are going to get it,” he said.
Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave said he saw the need to bring the municipalities together, especially after Caledonia, Mount Pleasant, and Sturtevant sought to pull out of the Racine Unified School District. Delagrave told Caledonia Village Board members that he believed developing a master education plan would help improve the Racine Unified School District by building cohesiveness.
“For the betterment of all of Racine County… we wanted break off from the school district and we asked: What is the right thing to do… but from the business community I heard that we need to solve this issue and get everyone on the same page and put to bed this other school district issue,” Delagrave said. “I just think it’s important to move on.”
Village president Bob Bradley said he believes the master education plan is the right path.
“You hit it right on the head with how scared companies are about developing their workforce,” he said.
Village trustee David Prott, who also supported looking at pulling out of Racine Unified, asked how the master plan would be used.
“What you’ve presented here is terrific, but how do we get to that point after the plan is developed and get to implementation,” Prott said. “Is there going to be support there to implement this?”
“Lolli (Haws, RUSD’s superintendent) supports this 100 percent,” Cariello said.
Now that the resolution has passed in Caledonia, Cariello plans to bring the proposed resolution in front of all of the communities in Racine Unified, he said.
“We’re going to go there with these resolutions,” he said.
The governing body is expected to include representatives from the governing boards, but the planning process will include bringing in parents, educators and civic groups.
“Then we’re going to go to the Board of Education… and say we just passed these resolutions, we are going to have this master plan,” he said.