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Racine Unified Candidate Offers Alternative Redistricting Plan

Brian Dey wants residents to take a serious look at his proposal and then express their opinions during public comments at Thursday's Board of Education meeting. He has updated his plan from an earlier version.

Brian Dey wants Racine Unified community members to consider and provide feedback on his alternative redistricting plan before they express themselves at the Board of Education meeting on Thursday.

He emailed a copy of his plan to all current board members, some members of district administration and to various media outlets, including Patch. And he is especially interested in how his fellow residents compare his plan to the district plan presented at and at last month.

A candidate for the school board, Dey crafted and distributed a plan earlier this year, but came to believe it was too ambitious. He revamped his idea a bit and broke it into two phases to go into effect over the course of two school years. The plan is attached to this story in a PDF file, or you may read it on Dey's website.

Residents are invited to the Board of Education meeting at 5:30 on Thursday at the Racine Unified Administration Building, 3109 Mt. Pleasant Steet. Public comments on redistricting will be invited, but the board will not take action.

"(The original) scenario was district wide and involved major programming changes that might be too aggressive with the given timetable," he wrote on his candidate website. "You will find that consideration of the parents and staff has been taken into consideration, as well as financial ramifications that were not taken into consideration in the scenario provided by the district."

Dey's efforts, he said, are to keep kids in the district, improve the learning environment for everyone, and be smart about money at the same time.

"We have to get away from thinking that not every kid can learn," he told Patch. "But if we're going to move children, let's just do it so we can really measure the impact. If we just do a little here and there we have no guarantee it will continue and we've lost time we don't have."

Phase I

The most signficant shifts come predominantly at the elementary level but don't involve closing any schools. Instead, Dey focused on re-establishing neighborhood schools and expanding successful magnet programs for more students.

Highlights of this first phase include:

  • Changing the focus at Goodland so that is the magnet elementary school instead of Red Apple;
  • Moving 235 students from Olympia Brown to Wind Point and moving non-neighborhood kids from Wind Point back to their neighborhood schools;
  • Drawing contiguous boundaries for Red Apple, Olympia Brown, North Park, Jerstad, Roosevelt and Wind Point; and
  • Expanding the magnet program at the REAL School for middle and high school students.

Dey pointed out that most families who shift their students out of RUSD typically do so in middle and high school. Since the REAL School has a waiting list of almost 400, expanding the student body from 250 to 400 means funding stays here. Also, he points out that the Goodland campus is more suited to a magnet school curriculum and most Red Apple students come from the southern parts of the district.

What all this means, he wrote, is that Unified would keep more state education aid in-district while also utilizing fewer transportation dollars. Additionally, since a good number of Wind Point students come from the Shelbourne Court neighborhood and it's difficult for parents to get to school since public transportation isn't available, moving these children to Jerstad puts them within walking distance of home. Not only does the district, again, save money on transportation, but if parents can more easily get to their child's school, there is also the chance parent participation could increase as well.

Phase II

Slated for implementation during the 2013-14 school year, the second part of Dey's plan includes only three components:

  • Moving sixth grade back to the elementary level;
  • Moving ninth grade back to middle school; and
  • Redistricting all elementary schools as neighborhood schools with the exception of the magnet programs.

"Moving ninth grade back to middle school makes sense on so many levels," he said. "Most of those kids just aren't ready for how big and busy high school can be. Taking a grade out of those buildings, which are overcrowded, will help reduce the population and that can only help."

As for moving sixth grade back to the elementary level, Dey said there are savings to be had on a number of levels.

"Moving sixth grade from the middle schools saves money on teachers because instead of seven or eight, we'd use the elementary model of just one classroom," he said. "If elementary buildings get overcrowded, the cost of a new elementary school is far less than a new middle or high school."

It also helps improve the scores of eighth grade students, Dey added, because students will have another year to grow and prepare for a middle school curriculum.

Does it violate desegregation laws?

In our conversation with Dey, he pointed out that most districts go through redistricting every three to five years. In response to worries that neighborhood schools will re-segregate the district, Dey said that simply isn't true.

"Neighborhood schools will keep populations level and diversity intact," he said. "Racine, Kenosha and Milwaukee all have diverse student populations from all areas of their districts. We aren't like other parts of the state that are more homogenous."

But Gretchen Warner, a member of the school board who is up for re-election next month, said while she has not had a chance to read Dey's proposal in-depth, she believes some of his ideas about neighborhood schools may violate federal desegregation laws.

Dey wrote in the conclusion of his plan that his ideas stem directly from what he's heard from parents and residents with an eye on keeping kids in Racine Unified.

"Careful consideration was given to community and parental values by addressing class sizes, safety, easier transitions, better student achievement and fiscal diligence," Dey wrote.

Editor's Note: Patch has contacted or attempted to contact the rest of the Board of Education as well as the candidates to get their input about Dey's proposal. We will update the story as those comments come in.

Heather Rayne Geyer March 14, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Some of this I do really agree with honestly. But I just can't get over the things on which I do not agree and that is magnets and voucher schools (which I know Dey supports). I wholeheartedly believe that 6th grade should be in elementary and 9th in middle school. I felt this way when I WAS in school. Always have. I feel it would be SO beneficial. I would also love to see uniforms, but that probably will never happen. But I gotta tell ya...I am not a fan of some of the philosophies of the magnet schools. There scheduling seems to work from what I have seen (tho may be too soon to tell). However...I have issues with certain things such as calling teachers by their first names and having social events where 6th graders are at dances with 12th graders. As far as vouchers - I won't even get into that....
Heather Rayne Geyer March 14, 2012 at 05:31 PM
OHH and I am all for neighborhood schools. Unfortunately some areas it is hard to do this...but I grew up on the Northside and walked to all my schools and they did feel like neighborhood schools. I wish it could be like that for everyone. But there are so many over built and busy areas now...
Heather Rayne Geyer March 14, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Agreed with everything Thomas said here.
Heather Rayne Geyer March 14, 2012 at 05:38 PM
I hope all candidates will be asked questions about these things at the forum. That is tonight, right? I was planning on listening to it on WRJN. I would REALLY love to know what they all feel about moving 6th and 9th grade, uniforms and neighborhood schools. Maybe I will email them...
Jimmy Neutron March 14, 2012 at 05:53 PM
I could be wrong, but I think you might be confusing magnet schools with charter schools. The magnet schools are Red Apple, Fine Arts and Jefferson Lighthouse, they go K-5.
James R Hoffa March 14, 2012 at 05:58 PM
@HRG - Wouldn't it be nice if all the other candidates were as courteous to their constituents as Mr. Dey and provided their plans on paper as well so that we could have a chance to properly vet them before the candidate forum? I personally think that had they done this, it would lead to a more intelligent and productive discourse on both sides during the forum - questions and answers. And wouldn't you especially expect this kind of courtesy from the incumbents, who should at least know better by now??? Obviously, Mr. Dey really cares and isn't just a lot of hot air like the incumbents appear to be.
Heather Rayne Geyer March 14, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Jimmy - you are correct. I am confusing them. Why do we need all these different types of schools anyway? Charter, magnets, typical....why so many different kinds? And what ARE the differences???
Heather Rayne Geyer March 14, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Looking for emails for Pfost and Brownell if anyone can help me out.
Heather Rayne Geyer March 14, 2012 at 06:06 PM
For years I have saught out candidates (for various positions) to ask them questions prior to voting. I would often publish their answers on my blog. When a candidate did not take the time to answer me - that would always stick in my mind. Since Patch is SO community specific, I do not think it gets enough Racine play. I do not think those who live outside MP/Sturtevant/Caledonia give much time to it even tho it is a wonderful resource. THis is why I wish they would just integrate and become a site for all of Racine. I think it would do wonderfully. Perhaps Heather and/or Denise can (if they havent already) invite the other candidates to write something for themselves/campaign. Agree to answer voter question in a forum such as this. THAT would be very helpful.
James R Hoffa March 14, 2012 at 06:28 PM
@HRG - Agree with everything you've stated in this response and especially about integrating the Patches into one to cover all of Racine County. That would be highly logical and efficient while still maintaining the hyper-local focus of Patch. .
mau March 14, 2012 at 06:39 PM
That is no excuse. They all know about the Patch, as they were involved in the 1st forum. Dey seems to be the only one who has put forth an effort to get himself out here.
Brian Dey March 14, 2012 at 06:59 PM
HGG- just to clarify, magnet schools were set up, and this is the original intent, so that white students would voluntarily choose schools in the inner city, while African-American students were bused to the predominantly white area schools. UUUnfortunately, African American students were not bused voluntarily, and are still not today. Charter schools are schools that are programs that are outside of the norms of the district. In the case of the REAL School, Walden and McKinley, these are called noninstrumentality charter schools, whose curriculum is outside the districts, but mest be approved by the School Board and are entirely public funded. In other words, they do not answer to the Superintendent, but do answer to the School Board. Their purpose is to try alternative programming to the district and are used as testing grounds. Our charters are highly successful.
Brian Dey March 14, 2012 at 07:02 PM
HRG- As far as the uniform issue, I was on the Board when the issue came up for McKinley and Gilmore and voted for their request to have uniforms. I did bring up going district-wide with uniforms, but at that time, the majority of the Board was against it. I would pursue going district-wide with uniforms again, if I'm elected.
Brian Dey March 14, 2012 at 07:07 PM
HRG- If Unified was providing adequate education for all of its students, i.e. graduating rates in the 85 percentile, test scores at or above the state average, I would see no need for vouchers. But the truth of the matter is, RUSD is performing terribly on many levels, that I believe parents should have choice, and not just the affluent. Vouchers are only necessary in failing districts. but I do believe, that once districts get out of the failing category, vouchers should be eliminated except for those at or below the poverty level.
Thomas Spieker March 14, 2012 at 07:38 PM
How about the creation of a Mt. Pleasant-Sturtevant- Caledonia School District?
C. Sanders March 14, 2012 at 09:51 PM
@Brian Dey ... We took the opportunity to research the school systems for HS and found RUSD [Case/Park] at ~45% on the State test, Kenosha Unified at ~64% on the State tests and Union Grove HS & Central HS at ~83% on the State tests. There was NO chance we would have our son attend RUSD with scores like that. He went on to Union Grove and has exceeded our expectations thanks to block scheduling + great teachers + admin.
C. Sanders March 14, 2012 at 09:55 PM
A friend of mine is a teacher at Case and is mortified that the students "run the joint" and can can give the finger to a teacher with NO real consequences, and a student at Case says f-you to a teacher with NO real consequences. A huge problem with management and control at that institution.
Heather Rayne Geyer March 14, 2012 at 10:05 PM
I would beg to differ. It is PARENTS who are the real problem. Teachers are have become afraid of their students and rightfully so. They have to fear violence, retribution, false accusations and parents believing the their kids over the teachers. I have seen this first hand...even at the elementary level. So many parents out there who either don't give a rats ass and simply ignore everything going on or they think their kid is beyond any wrong doing and blame ANYONE but the kid. It also doesn't help that parents have to be in fear of discipling their kids as well. We have a nation of spoiled brats because: A. Parents are too busy with their own interests or working 3 jobs B. Students have become desensitized in this ultra violent society C. Kids can easily accuse their parents of abuse making parents fearful to discipline in the slightest D. Parents think their kids need to be coddled and treated like princes and princesses and given everything they want - they are more interested in being their friends rather than their parents Just some of my thoughts/observations....it all starts at home.
Heather Rayne Geyer March 14, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Holy grammar errors!! Sorry!!
patchreader 123 March 15, 2012 at 12:28 AM
FYI: RUSD forum (i.e., debate) is currently live on 1400 am, WRJN. It started just after 7 pm.
Heather Rayne Geyer March 15, 2012 at 12:48 AM
Listening right now but missed the first 30 mins. Think they will have a podcast?
patchreader 123 March 15, 2012 at 01:00 AM
Hi HRG. Yes, WRJN announced it would post a podcast. However, I did not catch the date it will be posted. I'd just keep checking their website. Hope all is well.
Heather Rayne Geyer March 15, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Oh good. It is so hard to pay attention with my daughter still awake. Thank you very much and same to you!!
Jimmy Neutron March 15, 2012 at 01:57 AM
Heather - I have a daughter that went through Lighthouse, and a son that went to Goodland. At Lighthouse, there was a lot more parental involvement at the school, the curriculum was fast paced, challenging and a strong emphisis on acedemics. My daughter has moved on to McKinnley (progression for Lighthouse), and it has been great for her. At Goodland, the students were disruptive and made for a very challenging learning/teaching environment. I didn't see the parental involvement there, that I seen at Lighthouse. My son moved on to Mitchell Middle School, and as parents, we felt he wasn't prepared for the sixth grade, about 2 weeks into the year, we found out we were correct. Fortunately, his teachers have been working hard with him and us to get him on track. I am proud and thankful for all that they have done.
C. Sanders March 15, 2012 at 02:27 AM
@HRD ... By your reasoning, let's put the ability to direct and obtain substantial improvement in the educational process , as fundamentally measured by student bearing and academic achievement, ON HOLD until the parents are all all onboard. Nonsense! If that were true, how do you explain the stark difference in the results at Walden? When the management team at RUSD loses its passion, focus and strength to manage, RUSD ends up with the culture brewing at Case, and fails in its responsibility to deliver academic results. That's why this board needs people like Brian Dey. The board no longer has the passion, focus, gut or ability to perform its mission.
C. Sanders March 15, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Typo Sorry. @HRD = @HRG
Brian Dey March 15, 2012 at 03:00 AM
the podcast will be available starting tomorrow morning on WRJN. Also, there is supposed to be a re-broadcast March 19th.
Stormy Weather March 15, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Brian Dey is right as usual! He has some great ideas and the where with all to get the job done. Our present school board has done nothing for our district except spend money! Our school board has been (TALKING) about an exit survey for parents leaving our district for (3) three years, but not one School Board Member has taking the Bull by the horns and followed through with this very simple task! I guess in their mind, 850 students leaving the RU$D school district via open enrollment isn't a problem. I guess they can offset it with the 14 or 15 students who entered our district via open enrollment! If our school board can't even figure out how to do an exit survey, how can we trust this school board with the huge task of turning our district around?
Stormy Weather March 15, 2012 at 07:51 PM
C. Sanders - I have a student at Case, so I completely understand where you are coming from. There are a lot of problem students who negatively impact Case HS. In fact right now we are on the fence about doing open enrollment. If we choose open enrollment for our youngest, it will be one more involved family who has left the district. That being said, there are also a lot of great students at Case, and great teachers! The new head principal, Mr. Eben has been a great asset to Case, and under his direction, I see good things happening. But will that be enough? A lot will depend on what happens with our present school board... I'm including a link to a video that Case HS students and staff put together for incoming 8th graders. It's pretty impressive and it only took them a week! It walks an incoming student into Case HS and shows her all the (GOOD) things Case has to offer. http://www.ihigh.com/caseactivities/video_903868.html We will be voting for Dey, Brownell and Phost...
jt March 16, 2012 at 12:13 AM
i actually agree with brian on this issue. neighborhood schools should be the norm if you want parents to get more involved. the whole bussing issue is costly and has proven itself a failure for many years.

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