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Sturtevant trustees Tuesday agreed to place on a future meeting agenda a presentation by Brian Dey, the Caledonia resident leading the charge for a new school district separate from Racine Unified.
Committee members in Sturtevant first talked about the possibility of a new school district last month after the Caledonia Village Board listened to a presentation outlining the steps necessary to organize a new school district.
On Tuesday, board members again addressed the idea and agreed to invite Dey to a future committee meeting for the details. Dey is a former RUSD school board member who was involved in the 2008 push for a new school district. That effort failed to gather the necessary momentum to move past preliminary efforts.
Under current state law, the school district must approve a separation, but Dey and other supporters are working with lawmakers in Madison to introduce a bill that would remove that stipulation.
Trustee Chris Wright noted that separate elementary school districts in the villages that feed into a central high school might be worth exploring, including what it could mean for property taxes. He used the elementary and high school districts of communities west of I-94 as examples of how a new district here could be organized and supported.
“It’s interesting to look at the numbers in terms of the tax levy,” he said. “A combined mill rate in Union Grove is only $5 more per $1,000 than we pay currently to Unified.”
Union Grove, Raymond, and Yorkville all have their own K-8 elementary school districts that feed into a central high school.
Approximately half of RUSD’s student population comes from Caledonia, Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant, Wright added, so the decision to create a new school district isn’t and shouldn’t be a quick one.
Both Daryl Lynaugh and Chris Larsen noted that the Board of Education lacks a member from Sturtevant so having more direct input makes a separation from Racine Unified even more attractive.
“We definitely would need that,” Lynaugh said.
The Mount Pleasant presentation is scheduled for the Sept. 22 board meeting, and some trustees there are looking forward to exploring the possibility.
David DeGroot said exploring a new school district – either as partners with Caledonia or in partnership with Sturtevant – is about doing what’s right for Mount Pleasant.
“I’ve not been shy about my opinion that Racine Unified isn’t cutting it,” he said. “At the end of the day, we have folks interested in moving here but our school district is a problem.”
Rick McCluskey agreed even as he was cautious about clearing the legislative hurdle.
“There’s a huge mountain to climb with the legislation in Madison,” he said. “But I would be interested in exploring a new district as long as it’s good for the residents of Mount Pleasant.”