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In 2014, Racine Unified passed a historic referendum that put students first and highlighted strong community support for our schools.

Since then, we have worked continuously to share updates with the community in regard to how the referendum is positively impacting our students as well as how it impacts our local taxpayer – both financially through the tax levy and through improved facilities. We are committed to transparency in sharing just how your dollars are being invested.

These past three years, we have regularly updated our website to reflect ongoing work. We’ve held open houses to celebrate new schools, new science labs and remodeled buildings. We’ve provided an overview of each year’s work at Board meetings, in community newsletters and in our annual report.

I hope you’ve had a chance to keep up with some of the excellent work underway.

As a reminder, our 2014 referendum was structured to finance three new schools (Gifford, Knapp and Olympia Brown). We also invest a portion yearly into school maintenance and upgrades. And a portion is used each year to enhance technology – which includes school safety projects such as security cameras.

Today, I want to share with you our most recent projects and those that are upcoming.

Latest projects making impact on student learning

Over the last year we have completed several projects that are already improving learning opportunities and enhancing the learning environment for our students.

With referendum dollars, RUSD built brand new, modern science classrooms and labs as part of a two-story addition at Horlick High School. Thanks to a $25,000 donation from CNH Industrial, we were also able to fill the labs with new state-of-the-art science equipment.

As part of RUSD’s My School. My Choice. middle school transformation, RUSD used referendum dollars to renovate the Gilmore building as it was expanded to become Gilmore Fine Arts for kindergarten through eighth graders. The renovations included new elementary classrooms, library and makerspace.

To enhance school safety, we’ve continued to remodel school entrances to create secure vestibules. The Horlick High School fieldhouse was completely renovated and just completed this fall and we continue to make facilities enhancements at schools across the District.

What’s next?

This year, we will focus on some large projects including Phase II of the Gilmore Fine Arts renovations to make that school an excellent space for fine arts education, upgrades to the Park High School theater and roof improvements at Horlick High School. We’ll continue to focus on creating safe and secure school entrances at our schools, complete several maintenance projects to improve learning environments and construct a new pool at Case High School.

Case swimming pool planning is underway

Closing the Case High School swimming pool this fall was an unfortunate but necessary decision. The Case pool, built in 1966, has structural issues that make it unsafe for use.

While the Case pool had been on the docket to be re-done for several years, other urgent priorities pushed it to the back of the line. So, we continued to repair the pool to keep it open for student use.

Today, we are committed to moving forward with planning for the new pool.

We will be thoughtful and collaborative in this process. At this time, we are requesting proposals from architects. Once the Board of Education has approved an architect for the project, further planning will begin.

I encourage you to watch for more information and when there are opportunities, please come to the table and share your ideas and input.

We will continue to share with the community the work we are doing to improve our facilities, technology and the safety of our schools and hope that you’ll remain engaged in our progress forward.

To learn more about this exciting work, visit the referendum page on the District website (rusd.org).

We have a lot of work yet to do. Together, we’ll continue toward our goal to Raise Racine!

Dr. Eric Gallien is the superintendent of Racine Unified School District.

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of SC Johnson and United Way, our community has numerous opportunities to not only master reading, but also to celebrate it.

It’s important to note that a students’ chances of success increase when the whole community joins the school district in promoting literacy.

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Dr. Eric Gallien is the superintendent of Racine Unified School District.

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