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UW-L faculty among supporters speaking out to keep La Crosse’s North Woods school open



The debate over closing two La Crosse elementary schools is drawing in more parents living nearby.

Many families living in the North Woods neighborhood are speaking out about proposals to close that school, which opened 30 years ago.

UW-La Crosse professor Barrett Klein was among the North Woods neighbors who likes what the school near Highway 16 has to offer.

Speaking on WIZM’s La Crosse Talk, Klein said the financial or instructional reasons given for wanting to close North Woods don’t make sense.

“They’ve got a great little forest with a creek nearby,” Klein said. “Inside, it’s a gorgeous building with wide spaces. The art room is beautiful, the music room is full of instruments from around the world, so there are qualities there both aesthetic and related to love of life or biodiversity, with a garden that they tend.”

Nese Nasif is another UW-L professor, among the North Woods parents hoping to keep that school open.

“Energy efficient, it’s high capacity, it has so much storage which is necessary for elementary schools,” Nasif told WIZM’s Mike Hayes. “So much green space for kids.”

At community meetings, citizens have taken at least one straw vote to single out North Woods as a school that could be shut down.

Spence and Emerson also have been identified as elementary schools to be considered for closing.

La Crosse School District Superintendent, Dr. Aaron Engel, will be on La Crosse Talk PM on Thursday to talk about the final report from the Facility Advisory Committee (FAC), which met for the eighth and final time on Nov. 2.

Engel explained last month on WIZM that North Woods was selected to close partly because of its location.

“ It’s out in the country,” Engel said. “It’s on the edge of the city. So it’s not where kids live. There’s only about 60 students that live within two miles of that building. And so there’s a lot of busing that goes out there and families aren’t able to be quite as connected to that as a result because they can’t walk to school.”

The other elementary voted unofficially to close by the FAC was Hintgen over Spence.

The committee determined a north-south plan for closing those two elementaries.

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. Kathy Abraham

    November 15, 2023 at 3:12 pm

    I am a parent of a 4th grader at North Woods. I drove my daughter every day, preschool-5th grade, when we lived in Onalaska. My son busses there from the north side. I text with his teachers if they have a concern. His past teachers chat with me whenever they see me. We love that school and I know he won’t feel welcomed in another school like he does at North Woods! There is no other place I want my son to finish out his elementary school life!

  2. Kathy Abraham

    November 15, 2023 at 3:26 pm

    And Engle needs to look at the school comparisons. Why not close State Road or summit?? Why not 2 southside schools since they have 3 schools close enough to walk to, get to steppin’ then if bussing is such a concern?! They could easily afford to bus to North Woods for many years if they looked to closed 2 south side schools. The maintenance on state road is ridiculous! They want to close the biggest and 2nd newest built school?? It’s 5 minutes away from the north side. He doesn’t care what happens because 1. he doesn’t live in La Crosse 2. his children don’t go to a La Crosse school 3. He doesn’t pay taxes in La Crosse. But he certainly dictates what happens to our children. La Crosse school enrollment is down..does anyone wonder what the school board is doing about that BESIDES CLOSING SCHOOLS?? Maybe it’s a reflection of the school system. North Woods is the only International school within 100 miles. Is it because it’s curriculum is more culturally diverse?? Apparently the all white FAC & mostly all white school board need to focus on something else.

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