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La Crosse schools facing $2 million budget deficit, partly because of falling student numbers

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The La Crosse School Board has some budget-cutting decisions to make.

At its Monday meeting, board members got their first look at a proposed budget for this school year, where spending and revenue could exceed $100 million. Patty Sprang, the district director of business services, said a $2 million deficit is likely with a drop in enrollment being the main cause.

“This proposed budget, (it) is estimated 45 students we’ll lose between last year and this year,” Sprang told the board. “That’s pretty much due because our graduating classes are larger than the classes that are coming in.”

The official school district enrollment was counted Friday, but the numbers aren’t in yet.

Enrollment for last year was 6,116 students, compared to 6,918 students a decade ago, in 2010. The estimated enrollment this fall could be around 6,071.

Sprang added that the board could spend some money from the fund balance, but it shouldn’t do it too often.

She said if the district spent part of the fund balance every year, “you’ll end up with no fund balance, and nothing to help you through those months when you don’t have any revenue coming in.”

Superintendent Aaron Engel says increasing deficits and shrinking enrollment will make some school consolidations necessary. A referendum to build a single high school on Trane Company property will be on the November ballot. A budget hearing is set for October 17th.

On Monday, Emily Mootz was sworn in as the newest member of the school board. Mootz was chosen last week to take the seat left open when Rob Abraham resigned in August. The seat will be one of four to be filled in the April election.

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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1 Comment

  1. Nick Berry

    September 20, 2022 at 8:30 am

    Consolidation is inevitable unless you start tearing down a lot of these small houses; erect houses that would attract families to the area and bring more a lot more jobs.
    Will not happen. The old AAMCO commercial: you can pay some now or a lot more later.
    Keep kicking the can down the road- a huge pastime that cost’s the taxpayer’s a lot of money or bite the bullet now.

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