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

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

"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 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

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.