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Sturtevant Sportsplex

The Sturtevant Sportsplex, 10116 Stellar Ave., is shown in January 2016. The REAL School, now located in Caledonia, is proposed to relocate to the facility for the 2017-18 school year.

RACINE — The Village of Sturtevant and the Racine Unified School District have yet to come to an agreement regarding how and when the Sturtevant Sportsplex will become the REAL School, but that hasn’t stopped planning on the district’s end.

The School Board has approved $3.4 million in construction work to occur at the Sportsplex, 10116 Stellar Ave., and will begin building, Unified officials hope, sometime this summer.

Unified is planning on relocating the Racine Engineering, Arts and Leadership School, a charter school serving grades 6-12, and presently located at 5915 Erie St., Caledonia, to the Sportsplex.

The vote to authorize the expenditure passed at the School Board meeting on Monday night with all board members voting in favor of it except Michelle Duchow, who abstained because she also serves on the Sturtevant Village Board.

“The district has yet not obtained approval by the (Community Development Authority) to move forward with that project,” Duchow said.

In February, the village sent a letter asking the district to pay $35,000 in lieu of property taxes for the Sportsplex. Public schools are tax-exempt, but village officials contend money is needed to cover village services to the building. In addition to housing the REAL School at the Sportsplex, Unified proposes to continue to host community athletic events there.

On March 6, the School Board decided to “take no action,” effectively rejecting to pay the village.

Three days later, on March 9, when Unified officials went before the village Planning Commission in hopes of getting approval of a conditional-use permit, the commission decided to delay the vote until an agreement could be met.

Room to grow

David Hazen, chief operations officer for Unified, said the proposed new 34,000-square-foot facility will help expand enrollment for the REAL School, as well as provide students with educational opportunities at Gateway Technical College’s nearby SC Johnson Integrated Manufacturing and Engineering Technology (iMET) Center, 2320 Renaissance Blvd.

“This will allow it to grow,” Hazen said.

When asked what the consequences would be if the district and village can’t come to an agreement, Hazen responded “if we can’t build it, we can’t spend the money.”

The School Board on Monday also approved a $6.75 million loan from the state Board of Commissioners of Public Lands that would cover costs related to the REAL School, and reimburse the purchase costs for the former Kurten Clinic building, 2405 Northwestern Ave., to create space for the Turning Point Academy, an alternative learning program for at-risk students.

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Ricardo Torres covers federal, state and Racine County politics along with the Village of Mount Pleasant. He bleeds Wisconsin sports teams.

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