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Hintgen chosen over Spence by La Crosse school committee as candidate for closure



School study members sit at tables in the Hogan gymnasium during a La Crosse school meeting on Nov. 2, 2023 (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

North Woods and Hintgen elementary schools in La Crosse are now the chosen candidates for possible closings to save money during a time of declining enrollment.

On Thursday night, the Facility Advisory Committee (FAC) met for the eighth and final time at the Hogan Administrative Center, and voted 11-5 to consider closing Hintgen rather than Spence.

North Woods had already been proposed for closure at a previous FAC meeting.

School consultant Joe Schroeder of Madison, leading the meeting, said committee members appeared to have come to a consensus that two of the nine public elementary schools should close, North Woods on the north side of La Crosse and Hintgen on the south side.

About 40 to 50 members of the public attended the session. These eight committee meetings are not open for public comment. That happens Nov. 27 and Nov. 29.

An official proposal for closings will be announced next week, after the FAC submits its final report to the school board and school administration.

Consultant Joe Schroeder counts votes on a school closing proposal as Kelly Galvan reads the ballots at the final Facility Advisory Committee meeting on Nov. 2, 2023 (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

Study panel member Steve O’Malley spoke before the vote, noting that the La Crosse district enrollment has gone down 20 percent in the last 20 years.

“Whatever decision the school board makes, I’ll respect,” O’Malley said. “They’re the ones that are elected to make this decision, but it is cost-ineffective for us to continue to maintain nine elementary schools.”

North Woods is one of two schools that opened in the 1990s, when the La Crosse district was expecting future growth. No final closing decisions are expected by the school board until early in the new year.

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. Unlimited

    November 2, 2023 at 11:23 pm

    28 unelected people were hand picked by the District to represent the community on the advisory committee.
    11 of the 28 bailed out of the committee, apparently objecting to the process, leaving 17.
    Several of the remaining members cast aspersions on the process at this meeting.
    In the final tally 11 voted to close Hintgen; 5 to close Spence; 1 abstained.
    All committee votes were anonymous in an effort that pitted every school against the others.
    Hintgen may close due to an anonymous vote of 39% (11) of the original 28 members.
    Apparently that is the District’s idea of “consensus.”
    What could go wrong?

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