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La Crosse School Board approves $60 million referendum for April ballot



Closing Lincoln Middle School wasn’t the only big decision the La Crosse School Board made at its meeting on Monday.

The board also voted to authorize a nonrecurring operational referendum for the April ballot. If approved, the referendum would provide $60 million in funds over 6 years. That amounts to about $58 a year in property taxes for a $200,000 home.

La Crosse School District superintendent, Dr. Aaron Engel, told La Crosse Talk PM that a past operational referendum for $4.1 million will expire next year.

The new referendum will provide a year of overlap in funds to help relieve some of the district’s budget deficits, and then will replace the expiring referendum after next year. 

“We’ve seen an increase in inflation, and a lack of funding from the state legislature,” Engel said. “We’ve had no new spendable revenue for two years and we’ve been facing the underfunding of public education since 2009.”

The new referendum would have had to be voted on regardless of whether the $194.7 million referendum to build a new high school passed this past fall. However, the failure to approve a new high school still had an impact.

“It would’ve made our situation a little less dire,” Engel said. “We would have still had to renew our existing nonrecurring operational referendum in the next year, but we might not have had to go early and we might not have had to go for so much.”

The $60 million would go toward building maintenance, funding for programs, as well as daily expenses and bills.

“Some of the critical needs that we have in our district include maintaining our mental health support and behavioral support, being able to attract and retain high quality teachers in a challenging environment, and safety and security improvements to our aging buildings,” Engel said. 

 “There’s lots of needs we have in our school district and this will help continue to improve our buildings, improve our instruction and provide the critical services our students need.”

Sam is a student at UW-La Crosse studying media communication and political science. She has lived in La Crosse for 5 years and loves everything about the community. When she’s not at school or work, you can find her outside hiking the state parks or watching Netflix with her two cats.

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