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La Crosse School Board reviews plans to inform public on $53.5 million referendum



Four months before La Crosse residents vote on a $53.5 million school district referendum, the school board is working on ways to inform the public about the district’s building plans.

During Monday’s bi-weekly meeting, the board reviewed some possible displays comparing current facilities to ideas that could result from the referendum.

The referendum plan is to tear down the Hogan Administrative Center and build a new elementary school there, while updating State Road Elementary with eight new classrooms and a new gymnasium. Along with that, Emerson, Spence and Hintgen elementary schools would close.

La Crosse Schools Superintendent Aaron Engel talked about how education has changed since Emerson was built in 1939.

“We don’t educate the same way we used to,” Engel said. “We have greater requirements, new obligations. Our community demands different things.

Another community engagement session on the plan happens online from 6-7 p.m. on July 17. Other meetings are planned, as well, before the fall election.

La Crosse School Board president Dr. Juan Jimenez told the board the district will explain that the added funding is a necessity.

“The feeling that $53 million is, you’re asking for gold-plated everything in an elementary school,” said Jimenez, “and so why is the cost so high?

“This also shows a good example that we are also being judicious,” he said. “This is the cost of facilities these days.”

The board also reviewed some possible displays comparing current facilities to ideas that could result from the referendum.

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. LG

    July 2, 2024 at 8:31 am

    The school board is moving forward with a solution Before justifying the need. They have too many buildings yet try to justify building a new one. They have contacted Bray Architecture To move forward with pretty pictures and designs, before the community has approved this. Juan Jimenez is encouraging board members to speak with one voice. That is, he does not want any school board members to Go along to get along rather than express concerns about cost. One Jimenez says spending $54 million is judicious. He says this is the cost of building facilities While ignoring the fact, it is not necessary to build. By moving forward, this plan, the board is demonstrating how oblivious they are to rising taxes, inflation, and the needs of those who are going to be forced to pay for it all. By the way, the city of La Crosse is also expected to raise taxes because they have overspent their budget by $3.4 million. That’s your money.

    We need the more fiscally conservative school board members to speak up. Deb Suchla, Jim Bagniewski, where are you?

  2. Walden

    July 2, 2024 at 10:30 pm

    You got it figured out LG. Every time the school board makes a statement it’s a different story but always with the same ending…they want $53 million taxpayer dollars on top of the $60 million they received last fall and the $10 million covid funding and the $7 million record funding from the Wisconsin budget. Meanwhile, they refuse to discuss reducing expenses even though student headcount is down more than 20% in the last few years.

    The school board in toto is clueless. Those that should and might know better can’t seem to find their voice and all go along. I don’t think there is a so-called conservative in the entire lot.

    The district hasn’t seen the full tax effect of the last referendum yet and now they are piling on. City and County taxes will also go up as their combined $50 million of Covid funds have been exhausted.

    Engel “we don’t teach the way we used to”…he’s got that right, the District’s academic performance has been in a free-fall for years, something the school board never actually discusses.

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