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La Crosse Schools Superintendent Dr. Engel on student band playing Moon Tunes, $53.5 million referendum, chronic absenteeism

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FILE - La Crosse School District superintendent, Dr. Aaron Engel, in the WIZM studio for La Crosse Talk PM on March 19, 2024.

Dr. Aaron Engel, the superintendent for the School District of La Crosse, joins to discuss the gigantic student band La Crosse Confluence playing big gigs in the area, the $53.5 million referendum, how school districts are struggling, and wrapping up his fourth year.


La Crosse Talk PM airs weekdays at 5:06 p.m. Listen on the WIZM app, online here, or on 92.3 FM / 1410 AM / 106.7 FM (north of Onalaska). Find all the podcasts here or subscribe to La Crosse Talk PM wherever you get your podcasts.


The first big topic (8:15) was this huge student band that rotates through graduating and it’s playing at Moon Tunes this week and also has a gig at Ashley for the Arts in Arcadia this summer.

After that (12:30), we talked about how graduating went. The seniors who graduated would have been freshmen when the pandemic hit, and what the district does for those students who don’t graduate. That also led into a conversation (14:45) about the years-long problem of chronic absenteeism in the district.

In the second half of the show (20:50), we discussed the Milwaukee Public School District’s “accounting error” that could cost $50 million, and whether the La Crosse School District would ever find itself in a similar situation and how a school board its into that equation.

Next we got into the $53.5 million referendum (23:50) that could go on the November ballot, but started the conversation on whether the La Crosse School District is struggling — and therefore needs to go to referendum — or if all districts in Wisconsin are struggling.

In regards to the referendum, we also discussed the upcoming public engagement sessions the district has had and the ones coming up — 6 p.m. Tuesday and another on July 17 — and what they’ve learned (31:30) from the community so far, plus what the backup plans and repercussions (32:45) are if the referendum fails.

Ended the interview (35:40) with Engel answering some texts about absenteeism and the referendum.

Began the show getting Engel’s opinion on blowing stuff up. Engel is a Lt. Colonel for the National Guard serving at Fort McCoy and we asked him about a funny story from a past show, where Airfest’s Dave Larsen told a story about using 180 pounds of C4 to blow up a car, and if that would happen today.

Before the first break, we also hit on (5:30) Juneteenth coming up and how students nowadays learn about that, but when we were students, that wasn’t a thing that was taught in the 1990s.

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse

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