After hours of negotiation, the Sturtevant Village Board and Racine Unified School District came to an agreement on terms for a permit allowing the construction for the REAL School to begin soon in the village.
The conditional use permit was approved unanimously by the planning commission and the village board following a marathon negotiation in closed session. The new school will constructed as an addition to the Sturtevant Sportsplex at 10116 Stellar Ave in the Renaissance Business Park.
Village Takes Issue With RUSD Plan
The village board submitted several iterations of provisions for the conditional use permit over the past month. RUSD took umbrage at several of the conditions throughout the process, until finally threatening the village with a lawsuit earlier this week.
Village President Steve Jansen and administrator Mary Cole have maintained that the village was moving as fast as it could, and it was simply looking out for the interests of the village and the children at the future school.
David Hazen, chief operating officer for RUSD, said he thinks the school is still on track to open for the first day of school next fall following this meeting.
“We agreed on some of the issues regarding safety and other things the village was concerned about,” Hazen said.
One of these issues was the school’s open-campus lunch hours. The business does not have infrastructure for pedestrians like crosswalks and sidewalks. So the board was vocal from the start about its hesitance to allow students to walk across streets driven by heavy industrial trucks. But RUSD was adamant that open campus was important to the school’s operations.
In a compromise, the decision was made to allow junior and senior high school students, or teenagers of driving age, to participate in open campus lunch breaks. All other students will not be able to leave the campus.
In the new agreement, RUSD will also not have to seek authorization from the village to host large events or activities that occur after 10 p.m.
For the larger events, RUSD will notify Sturtevant’s Chief of Police about the event, Jansen said. “We need to have our department on the ready just in case.”
Attorneys representing the village board and RUSD planned to hammer out the final language following the meeting.
“Now that it’s happened I’m wishing we can get going and start building the school,” Hazen said.
Last hurrah for Jansen and Wright
Along with leading the board and plan commission through the negotiations Thursday night, the meeting was Jansen’s last full village board meeting as president.
He made some closing remarks to the board and wished his successor, Trustee Jayme Hoffman, good luck in the future.
Trustee Chris Wright also made some remarks. He wished them luck in the future and said that when he began, the village was $1.6 million in debt. Now the village has a fund balance of $1.6 million.
“So, that’s a $3 million dollar swing,” he said. “That’s nothing to lose sight of. Best of luck.”
Jansen will call the meeting to order two weeks from now, then Hoffman will take over.
“Then I’ll ride off into the sunset and plant some flowers,” Jansen joked.
Jansen isn’t interested in serving on any boards or commissions, saying, “I’m gonna take a clean break.”
He wouldn’t speculate on what the future has in store. But said: ““I’ve lived here my whole life don’t plan on going nowhere.”