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WATCH: La Crosse school board candidates weigh consolidation during primary forum



The idea of closing school buildings in the future could be a major issue for voters in the La Crosse school board race this year. 

Five of the eight board candidates in the upcoming primary took part in a nonpartisan, virtual forum Monday night, sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

These five candidates took part:

  • Katie Berkedal
  • Dawn Comeau (i)
  • Merideth Garcia
  • Juan F. Jimenez (i)
  • Jake Williams
    (i) – incumbent

These three candidates did not take part: Mary LaMouthe, Kimberly Krejchik and Kent Stein.

The eight primary candidates on the Feb. 15 ballot will be trimmed down to six for the April election, when three seats will be filled.

Among the topics discussed, those candidates addressed district plans to merge schools because of declining enrollment.

Comeau would like to know what the taxpayers want, based on community surveys.

Williams said change will have to come, but he believes the district is in a good financial situation.

“We have the ability to pivot and make decisions,” Williams said. “We’re in a good spot.”

The district has proposed merging Central and Logan high schools, along with closing other schools in La Crosse.

Garcia said it would be tough to see some schools consolidate, while Berkedal favors combining buildings at certain levels.

“I personally don’t love the idea of combining Central and Logan,” Berkedal said. “I could be convinced if, you know, the data, the feedback from the community is showing favor for that option.”

Jimenez said downsizing will have to be done.

“We are in a declining enrollment, and not just La Crosse. This is pretty much nationwide,” Jimenez said. “We are not the school district that we were 20-plus years ago.”

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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