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La Crosse School District gathers comments at 2nd roundtable discussion on $53.5 million referendum



A referendum to spend $53.5 million on a new elementary school and upgrade an existing one in the Crosse School District is still six months away, but voters already have many questions for school leaders.

About 20 people attended the second community engagement discussion Wednesday night at Central High, following a virtual session that was held on Tuesday.

Superintendent, Dr. Aaron Engel, and several La Crosse School Board members, sat down with attendees to discuss school priorities.

Board member Trevor Sprague said building costs may be the big issue on people’s minds, but possible staff cuts are another way the district might reduce costs.

“If we don’t follow this referendum plan, and we look at staff reductions, a number Dr. Engel has put before the board is roughly 45 positions” to be cut, Sprague said, “and that’s both in terms of teaching and non-teaching staff.”

Attendees of a La Crosse School District meeting discuss building plans on Wednesday.

The option of consolidating existing schools also was discussed during the hour-long meeting.

Another board member attending, Katie Berkedal, said there is no current plan to consolidate Central and Logan high schools.

A plan to build one new high school was turned down two years ago by voters.

Berkedal said staff reductions or changes at the elementary school level also are possible, depending on the referendum vote.

Sprague added that even if the ballot question does not pass, alternatives might cost about the same.

Two more public meetings like this are planned before the November referendum. Another session happens Tuesday at Logan High School.

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 Comment

  1. LG

    June 5, 2024 at 8:23 am

    Sounds like scare tactics Trevor Sprague. I suggest you knock it off. Spending 54 million to save 2 million makes no sense. The school district needs to close buildings to save money. With fewer schools the school district needs to right size the staff To save additional money. That’s the answer. It’s not one or the other. And spending money on a brand new shiny building is not cost-effective. Close the schools you need to and downsize the staff to put the school district on fiscally responsible path.

    I encourage all district taxpayers to vote No to this latest folly, and the sleight-of-hand some members of the board are trying to pull off. and yes, I’m talking to you, Trevor Sprague, Juan Jimenez, Meredith Garcia, Katie Burkett, all. And please, Deb Soula, Tim Alberts, and Jim Baginski. You were elected to counter the big spending liberals on the school board.

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