The objective of Superintendent Tom Hicks and the Racine Unified School Board was to raise test scores in reading and math.
The objective has not been attained.
FACT: Tom Hicks has been Superintendent of RUSD for 5 years.
FACT: Since Dr. Hicks’ arrival, the budget has gone from $188 million to the current budget of $271 million; a 31% increase, or $83 million.
FACT: Per pupil spending has risen from $9,000 in 2001 to $12,500 in 2006, an increase of 28%.
FACT: WKCE test scores have remained flat during Dr. Hicks’ tenure, and in some areas there has been a decline.
FACT: Unified has not redistricted in the past 12 years, and the administration wants to push it off another year.
FACT: Thirty years ago, RUSD had a student population of 31,000 and had 1,600 teachers. Today, the student population is 21,500 and has 1,600 teachers.
FACT: The district has gone back to the taxpayers for additional operational revenue six times in the past five years.
FACT: Not including referendums, local taxes have increased $4 million in the past five years. Including referendums, local taxes have gone up over $32 million.
FACT: During that same time span, 2001 to 2006, state funding rose over $13 million. Federal funding rose $7 million.
School Board Member Brian Dey
The majority of the board wants charts and graphs covering various aspects of student progress. As school board member Brian Dey says, “Only one chart is meaningful: What percentage of students are meeting targeted academic standards? That one chart would show whether the superintendent’s program was succeeding or failing.”
Are there solutions?
Four years ago, as a member of a group known as “Citizens for a Sound Economy,” Dey suggested a program to Dr. Hicks which included:
redistricting in order to make the most efficient use of buildings and facilities;
doing away with diversity programs which have not worked for 30 years, have cost $8.9 million for busing and resulted in students spending up to 3 hours a day going to and from school
a return to junior high school configuration which would relieve overcrowded high schools;
moving away from centralized administration to more on site management
training principals to handle their own budgets
changing teachers’ schedules which now include 3 hours of “prep periods” and 4 hours teaching per day, to 1 or 2 maximum hours of prep periods and 5 or 6 hours teaching. (No other district in the state has 3 hours preparation time.)
Brian Day at RTA October 2006 Member Meeting
If these efficiencies were incorporated into the system, there would be no need for referendums for additional operational funds.
Dey also stated that the change to neighborhood schools would be beneficial to the students and the district.
When asked what the public can do to move the board toward neighborhood schools, Dey said that contacting board members and stating one’s position was the best way to accomplish it.