There wasn’t much public discussion of a failed school referendum during the La Crosse School Board’s first regular meeting after the November election.
The open meeting Monday night, only six days after the election, lasted 10 minutes, after which the board went into closed session.
One member of the public spoke about the $194.7 million referendum to convert an office building into a high school.
The issue lost by a 2-1 margin, and speaker Tamra Dickinson said the La Crosse district is “stuck in a numbers game, that frankly, you’re no good at.”
Dickinson did praise Onalaska’s approach to a $75 million referendum package that passed on Nov. 8.
“They invited people from the area to form a task force, which was supported by a third party,” Dickinson said. “I feel their process was open, honest, and transparent.”
La Crosse’s school district put out a survey to gauge the public’s stance on a new high school, then had multiple public sessions, which included questions from the public, on the plan, which cost about 2.5 times more than the Onalaska plan.
Onalaska is doing a vast remodel of its middle school and more building updates to its high school, while La Crosse needs to consolidate because of declining enrollment and too many aging buildings in need of repairs.
Dickinson urged the school board to listen to ideas from the voters about future plans for city schools.
There were citizen groups on both sides of the La Crosse referendum, with much attention given to the “no” group, which doesn’t want Logan High School to be phased out, despite years of declining enrollment in the city schools.
Logan, however, would not be phased out, it would have been converted into a middle school, while other, older buildings would no longer be used for school.
District leaders have declared that Central and Logan high schools will almost certainly have to be merged into one building within the next few years.