Proposal would save Racine School District from state takeover

RACINE - An amendment to the state budget could help failing schools in Racine avoid a state/county takeover, and the proposal would give the district another year to make improvements.

However, not everyone is on board with the proposal.

“I think change is necessary," said Kate Washington-Ubaldo. "I think [a] change would come to the betterment of our children and our future.”

Washington-Ubaldo, a mom with two kids at schools in the district, said she welcomes the third party intervention. Last November, the district got a grade of “fails to meet expectations” from the state with 11 schools flat out flunking.

However, some state legislators are discussing an amendment to put-off the opportunity schools and partnership program (OSPP) take over. The OSPP was created in the last state budget to address some failing school districts in Wisconsin. The Racine Unified School District (RUSD) is at risk of being turned over to the OSPP if it receives another failing grade from the state in November for the second year in a row.

“They’re buying time," Washington-Ubaldo said. "The state needs to come in and do what they need to do for our children, they need to put our children first now not later."

In a statement, RUSD confirmed:

“[We are] focused on improving our report card results. Through initiatives like the academies of Racine, we are already seeing encouraging results among our freshmen… We appreciate that our local legislators are considering a delay. Much of the transformational work underway will take time to impact our report card score.”

The district won’t know it’s new grade until November, but if it fails and without the amendment, it would automatically be turned over to the OSPP and run by a county executive appointed commissioner.

Senator Van Wanggaard agreed the district needs more time, and he along with Speaker Robin  Vos and U.S. Rep. Thomas Weatherston are each playing a role in getting this amendment off the ground.

"Over the last school year, Racine Unified has started several major initiatives designed to correct the poor results on last year’s school district report card," Wanggaard said. "I support giving these new initiatives another year to show their effectiveness or failure… [What’s more] the Foxconn development demands an educated workforce and more importantly, children deserve a high quality education that prepares them for the future."

Right now the amendment is only being discussed, if it is officially drafted and proposed it would be included in the state budget when the finance committee meets on education.

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