Even though Caledonia narrowly passed 2,481 to 2,372 an advisory referendum on April 7 to start pursuing an independent school district, Village President Bob Bradley said he doesn’t think he’ll have enough votes from the village board to approve paying for a feasibility study without having the state law changed first.
“People are not happy with the Racine Unified School District. That’s obvious, but are you willing to invest in something you currently have no control over?” he said.
As it stands now, Racine Unified would need to give its blessing to Caledonia to separate from the district. The group behind forming the independent school district wants state Legislators to change the law to allow communities to separate from unified school districts if they choose through a referendum.
The cost of the feasibility study is $30,000.
The issue isn’t slated to be on the Caledonia Village Board agenda anytime soon because the state Legislature needs to change a law that would allow Caledonia residents to vote on separating from Racine Unified, Bradley said.
“We need the group organizing this effort to tell us what the plan is, but we’re not going to put it on the agenda until the state changes the law. The reason being is, if they don’t change law, then nothing happens anyway,” he said.
Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) is working on drafting a bill that would change the law, according to Scott Kelly, a spokesperson from Wanggaard’s office.
But Bradley said he will be working with the group when he gets back from vacation in a few weeks to talk about the direction they’ll be taking on the issue.
Brian Dey, a former Racine Unified board member, is spearheading the independent school district movement said Wanggaard is still working on drafting the bill.
He realizes that community members who want to see Caledonia split off from Racine Unified have expectations that the feasibility study would be approved immediately, but he is confident that the feasibility study and the law change will happen.
“I understand that the board may not want to do anything until after the law changes,” he said. “I’m not opposed to either happening first, but it needs sorted out at the board level. But I’m not pushing them either way. They understand people have expectations. I’m confident that they’ll be able to satisfy both requirements.”