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As I See It

Still time to decide La Crosse school referendum outcome



There are plenty of questions about a La Crosse School  District referendum that will be put to voters in November. Last night, the second of two community discussions about the plan was held to answer some of those questions. The proposal, with a pricetag of $53.5 million, calls for consolidating Emerson and Spence elementary schools to a new building at the Hogan Administrative Center. It also calls for closing Hintgen elementary and moving those students to an expanded State Road School with eight new classrooms and a mew gymnasium. This is the latest proposal the district has put forward to address sharply declining enrollment. But even some new members of the La Crosse School Board had questions whether this proposal is the best solution to address declining enrollment. There are two more community discussions planned about the district’s proposal, and if you have any questions about the plan, or whether you support it, you may want to attend one of the remaining sessions. Or you can visit the district’s website for an overview. Or call a board member and ask questions. It makes sense to learn as much as we can about the plan before we decide whether we support it when we head to the polls in November.

CORRECTION: This story has been corrected to identify Emerson and Spence as the two schools being consolidated to the Hogan site.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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  1. Trevor Sprague

    May 23, 2024 at 9:17 pm

    Hi Scott,

    Just two quick corrections, your article incorrectly names Logan to be closed, along with Spence. The referendum specifies Emerson and Spence to be consolidated in a new building at the Hogan site. There are also four scheduled sessions, two virtual and two in person. The next two are Tuesday, May 28th and Thursday, June 6th. Thanks!

    Trevor Sprague
    La Crosse School Board Member

    • Rick Solem

      May 24, 2024 at 1:20 am

      The story has been corrected. Thanks Trevor.

      • walden

        May 24, 2024 at 1:44 pm

        Suggest WIZM actually print the verbiage of the referendum so we don’t have to guess.

  2. Paul

    May 24, 2024 at 8:52 am

    Since you are a school board member, I would like to point out to you as well as the community that the school board has spoiled the opportunity to address the operational budget the district is facing. Instead of proposing to raise taxes by say $3 million to address the operational budget, and to right size staff, the referendum has been spoiled by combining the operational budget issue with the superintendent’s desire to build a shiny new building, thereby raising taxes by $54 million. If a new building is needed In a district that already has too many buildings, you should propose it ad a separate issue. Solve the operational budget first. The community will support the $3 million tax increase needed for that. If you push for a $54 million tax increase, you risk not getting a building, but you also risk not solving the operational budget.

    • Walden

      May 24, 2024 at 1:22 pm

      Paul, the School Board is conflating an alleged need to cut cost with an alleged need to build a new school even while shuttering others due to underutilization. This makes no sense.

      Addressing a new school should be done only after a plan to reduce cost is brought forward. This process has been horribly mismanaged from the get-go. The citizens committee convened last year was not allowed to discuss cost reduction. Due to disfunctionality among the board members and between the board and District management, this apparently is the best they could do.

      The proposed referendum should be soundly defeated and the Board sent back to the drawing board.

      • Paul

        May 24, 2024 at 5:46 pm

        I absolutely agree with and hope the referendum is soundly defeated, just as the nearly $200 million referendum was defeated. I also agree with you that cost reductions proposals should also be made and actually implicated in a manner that produces results. They should not be proposing any tax increases without solving their fiscal budget processes. Jesse Martinez is all about saving staff, despite declining enrollment and the need to downsize. Of course, he’s strictly a union man and does not care about the taxpayers nor educating children. He’s about the staff and is on record for that. I believe we are on the same page.

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