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North Woods’ first principal fighting to keep La Crosse school open



One of the elementary schools being considered for closing in La Crosse received a vote of confidence from its very first principal.

Jane Morken was in charge of North Woods International School when it opened in 1992.

North Woods is now on the list of city schools that might be shut down to cut costs.

Morken told the La Crosse school board Monday that there were specific reasons why that building was placed on County Highway B.

“It was put there because of the space, not because we thought it was gonna grow there” Morken told the board. “It was created as a solution to the imbalances in our schools, economic, demographics and overcrowding.”

North Woods and Southern Bluffs were built at the same time, and many students were bused to the schools under a plan for socioeconomic balance throughout the district.

Citizens, who opposed the busing plan and the balance policy, organized a recall drive, which led to the removal of four school board members in a 1992 election.

The La Crosse School District is under financial pressure to close an elementary school or two, because of high costs and falling enrollment.

The district has declined by nearly 1,800 students since 2003 because of declining birth rates and the growth of rural populations.

Last summer, the district closed Lincoln Middle School, which is over 100 years old.

“From my perspective,” Morken said, “(a study) committee was given a narrow parameter of considerations — close a school on the north side, close a school on the south side.

“Why not three? Why not two? Why not two on the south? Why not build a new school? Why not move the boundary between Logan and Central, if enrollment demands it? We’ve done it before.”

Morken argued that schools are being “pitted against each other.”

North Woods, along with Emerson School on Campbell Road, have been mentioned as likely candidates for closing before next fall. The district is expected to make a decision on the future of North Woods and other schools within a few weeks.

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. Walden

    October 16, 2023 at 10:31 pm

    The School District is a disaster. As said in the article, the Facility Advisory Committee was given a narrow range of pre-selected options, all concluding with “we are closing [blank] school[s]”. Discussion of other options was shut down immediately.

    The School Board has vacated its responsibility in this matter and is not even engaged in the discussion. It’s past time for parents, teachers and taxpayers to wake up!

  2. Lucenut

    October 18, 2023 at 6:54 am

    The government school paradigm is a failure. Shut them all down. They will be replaced by private schools that will provide a product people actually like.

    • Charles Fischer

      October 18, 2023 at 3:03 pm

      Great idea Lucenut. Shut down the public schools, no more school taxes.

      Everyone goes to private schools and pays their own way. I love it.

  3. John Rausch

    October 19, 2023 at 6:59 pm

    Close the Hogan Admin Cyr…. problem solved.

  4. Kevin

    October 20, 2023 at 10:36 am

    I agree with Lucenut – the public school system, the government funded paradigm has failed. The school system has forgotten it’s primary mission – educate people, do it better than anyplace else in the world, do it less expensively if possible, foster critical thinking, produce problem solvers, blah blah blah.

    The public school system has one nothing but create victim mentality oriented thinkers for at least 20 years, perhaps more. They have discouraged boys from pursuing higher education, they have removed all vestiges of accountability, steadily declining test scores, and now they are ‘ministering’ to our children without parental approval or notification, they are putting our children at physical/emotional risk by allowing the mixing of genders in very gender specific areas,

    All this for a few dollars more every year. No place else in the private sector would this be allowed or tolerated.

    Never vote for more money for the public school system, ever, until they can actually return to the job of teaching.

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