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School District Creation Budget Addendum Could Threaten Racine Unified School District

Villages In RUSD Could Secede From School District

Wisconsin state capitol building
WisconsinKassKop (CC-BY-ND)

The Racine Unified School District is concerned about the upcoming budget, but not just because of funds. A budget addendum, titled School District Creation could allow villages to leave the district.

The amendment only applies to districts encompassing cities with more than 75,000 residents and two or more villages. The school district also must have 15,000 students and have failed its two most recent accountability report cards, receiving a “fails to meet expectations” grade, while getting funds to desegregate the district.

If the Racine school district fails the upcoming state Department of Public Instruction’s accountability report card and this addendum passes, village boards can vote to leave the school district. Unlike the current process to create a new school district, only the residents within the area of the proposed district get to vote on it.

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State Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, chalked this up to an attempt to segregate a diverse school district.

“It’s hard to imagine something that would be more divisive and have more of a negative impact on school children than resegregating the schools,” Mason said.

Brown v. Board was 1954, and here we are in 2017 actually debating about whether or not our schools should be segregated again,” he continued.

Racine Unified School District Superintendent Lolli Haws agreed with Mason’s concern about segregation, but said she doesn’t think many villages will take up the offer. She also said the potential new school districts would miss out on the opportunities the larger school district offers.

If a village board votes to begin the secession process, the DPI’s School District Boundary Appeals Board has 180 days to conduct a study, provide information and hold a public hearing. Then the residents in the proposed school district will vote on it.

The cost of a new school district would massively impact property taxes, said DPI spokesman Tom McCarthy, because DPI wouldn’t provide funds for the first year of operation. DPI funds schools based on prior years.

Mason said he expects a legal battle if this addendum is passed and goes into effect in Racine.