Caledonia board votes down study on separating from RUSD; some taking matters into their own hands

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CALEDONIA -- In April, voters in Caledonia passed a referendum indicating they want to separate from the Racine Unified School District and create their own school district. The process could take years. For example, in the Green Bay area, it took a district of 2,000 students three years to get through the process. And now -- there is a new obstacle in Caledonia, and it has some residents taking matters into their own hands.

Caledonia Village Trustee Ed Willing

Caledonia Village Trustee Ed Willing

"It`s really about just having local control and local identity. You know, we want our own high school football team. We want our own bake sales and PTAs," Caledonia Village Trustee Ed Willing said.

Willing has spent the last few years helping to quarterback the effort to get the community its own school district. It is currently part of the Racine Unified School District.

Willing is now taking his dedication one step further.

"We have decided that we`re going to raise the money ourselves," Willing said.

The money will fund a feasibility study on the creation of a school district in Caledonia.

Despite the fact that residents gave trustees the go-ahead when they passed the referendum in April, when the Caledonia Village Board took up the issue last week, it got voted down.

"Suddenly a vote that we thought would pass turned into 4-2 as a negative," Willing said.

Caledonia Village Trustee Kathleen Trentadue

Caledonia Village Trustee Kathleen Trentadue

Caledonia Village Trustee Kathleen Trentadue voted against it, but not because she doesn't support starting a school district in Caledonia.

"I think it`s a wonderful concept," Trentadue said.

Trentadue says she wanted more clarity as to the type of study needed, and she wanted to explore ways to keep the cost of the study down.

"The resolution they wanted us to vote on said not to exceed $30,000. Well if the gentleman that does the work is standing right there and he said 'I can`t do it for that,'" Trentadue said.

Now, Willing and others are trying to raise the money on their own. As of Sunday, July 12th, they had collected about $2,400.

"The residents asked them to pursue it, so we're saying 'okay fine. If the village won't do it, we will raise the money,'" Willing said.

As things stand currently, if a school district was created in Caledonia, Racine Unified School District officials would have to sign off on it.

Racine Unified School District

Racine Unified School District

Willing tells FOX6 News several state lawmakers have expressed interest in changing the law, so Caledonia could make that call itself. He says those lawmakers want to see this study before taking action.

In 2008, a similar push to create a school district in Caledonia fell short when supporters failed to gather enough signatures to put the issue to a vote.

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  • Opinion8d

    Sad to say, this is a very political issue. The problem here are the demographics and the stuff no one want to talk about openly. The City of Racine knows if the outside communities leave, it will simply become another MPS. I’m sure SCJWax doesn’t want that either, but they also need to attract employees. If Caledonia succeeds, I’m sure Mt Pleasant would be right behind them and then you get ‘White-flight’. Surely it would move to the Kenosha area with similar results. If the liberals could get out of the way, Racine could be an example of empowering people and demanding results, all the while, having strict consequences for those that can’t. Best of luck to Caledonia on this uphill battle.

    • Ed Willing

      Such a change would be good for Racine, as they get more funding, more local accountability, and a smaller, more manageable district.

      Separation would be a win/win for everyone! I must say though, with open enrollment, it is anything but “white flight.” Frankly, I would hope, as a leader of this Caledonia movement, to see us become a destination district. I want our community to have such success, that people of all races and backgrounds OE into our community and give it an even better reputation.

      Empower the local residents! They should have the same voice to split as they did to join!

  • Brittany Kallies

    The people have voted, this shouldn’t be so hard! They have the clarification they need, it is time to do what they were elected to do, listen to the people! We said yes in April, we obviously are still saying yes by raising our own funds! We aren’t going away!

  • Fran Martin

    Our local rep,Tom Weatherston was at the meeting. I understood him to say that neither of the possible bills needed to change the law were at all likely to pass, regardless of receipt the financial info requested. In addition,I understood him to say the info would need to include impact on neighboring communities where Caledonia children now attend school. I have supported a separate school system for a long time,but I don’ t support tossing tax dollars into a dark hole. If the group raises the funds itself I think that’s great,but we had just such a study done in 2008,for $30,000.

  • Tasha Slusar

    Donations can be made at the above link.
    This is not only an opportunity for our children to receive a better education, but also the opportunity to make Caledonia a desirable location in order to attract new residents & new businesses.

    We said yes!

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