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La Crosse Schools promote April funding referendum with series of informational meetings



For the second consecutive election, the La Crosse School District is coming to voters for more funding.

This time, the request on the spring ballot is in operations, instead of a new building project.

La Crosse voters are being asked to approve $60 million in school funding, just months after turning down a $194.7 million to build a new high school and consolidate the two old ones into middle schools.

The district is holding meetings before the April referendum, to sell the latest funding plan for six years.

La Crosse Schools Superintendent, Dr. Aaron Engel, spoke Tuesday about school funding during an online meeting. That included comments on the November defeat of the bond issue to combine Central and Logan high schools into a brand new building.

“They understand that we have declining enrollment,” Engel said. “Our community understands we have deficit budgets and aging buildings. However, they did not like the proposed solution. They rejected that.”

The La Crosse School District has a $3.5 million deficit this year, which Engel said could grow to $8 million within six years.

Engel added that taxpayers are telling the district to invest in the buildings that already exist, noting that the school board recently voted to close Lincoln Middle School at the end of this class year to save money.

The superintendent believes the funding referendum on the spring ballot will be more acceptable to parents and homeowners.

“Over the last three years, we’ve cut 40 positions, we’ve reduced all district budgets in multiple years,” Engel said, calling the closing of Lincoln a difficult decision.

The next information session will be March 9 at Logan Middle School. More information sessions are planned, once a week, before the referendum. The schedule can be viewed here.

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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