Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Numbers to Ponder #2

It took over a month but Unified finally provided me with the number of students from Racine and Caledonia. Caledonia has 3,063 RUSD students and Racine has 14,509 RUSD students. Caledonians pay $4,244 in local property taxes for every Caledonia student while Racinians pay only $1,585 in local property taxes per Racine student. Now if you consider that local taxes account for only about 27% of RUSD funding, while state and federal taxes account for the rest, Caledonians pay a whopping $15,702 per Caledonian student while Racinians pay just $5,864 per Racinian student.

Given the huge amount that Caledonians pay per Caledonian student ($15,702), it would seem possible that they could fund their own district. However, given Caledonia's wealth relative to Racine, it is a near certainty that they would get less money per student from the state than does RUSD. Secondly, if a Caledonia school district was able to offer a decent or at least safe education to children, you can be sure that more students would want to attend, thereby driving up the cost.

The question Caledonians should be asking of themselves and their representatives is whether they want to continue to pay large sums to subsidize the substandard education of Racine children while many of their own children opt out of the district. Furthermore, do they want to be a community with a school district that attracts families to the area, or one that scares them away?

I don't live in Caledonia, but if I did I would at the very least be interested in paying a small amount to get the facts, study the issue, and debate the pros and cons of having a seperate school district.


eric said...

I live in Caledonia. If we pulled out of RUSD how would that impact the city? My guess is that even if Caledonia decided they could go it alone, other factors would surface to keep Caledonia in the RUSD fold. Having just paid my taxes and made tuition down payments for our kids' school, I'm in an extremely receptive mood to study new/more effective/more efficient gov't ideas. I don't want to see my neighbors in the city harmed, but with frequent headlines for more referendums it is time to explore new ideas. We were scared into one referdum with the threat of eliminating sports, this referendum scare will be based on building security concerns. To quote the Outlaw Josey Wales, "Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining". It may be time to blow up unified.

Brenda said...

Denis you said:

"Secondly, if a Caledonia school district was able to offer a decent or at least safe education to children, you can be sure that more students would want to attend, thereby driving up the cost."

I'm not sure I am completely following you here.

Hypothetically, if a 4th grade class had 20 kids and they increased the class size by 20% the class would have 24 kids. The district would receive an extra $8000 for each new student, but still have the same fixed costs (short of new desks for the students).

What I'm trying to point out that an increase in new students does
not necessarily drive up the costs of education.

Brenda said...


Preliminary numbers have been run by the financial team of RUSD.

Caledonia leaving will not hurt the district financially, or so says the superintendent.

Denis Navratil said...

Brenda; the accuracy of my statement would be dependent on the states funding formula. If Caledonia created a very desireable school system, such that many families with children moved to Caledonia because of the schools, it is hard to imagine that the cost to locals would not go up. Presently Caledonia sends about 3,000 kids to Unified. Now suppose a new school district in Caledonia enrolled 4,000 kids. My guess is that the local property tax burden would increase as a result. But perhaps not. Some government entity should study this. Perhaps Caledonia?

Brenda said...

Wow, that IS a great idea. Someone should study that question... :)