La Crosse Schools Want City Help – WIZM 92.3FM 1410AM

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– By Aaron JJ Engel, Ph.D., Superintendent, La Crosse School District

We need your help. The La Crosse School District recently sent out a survey to all households in our district asking for their views on where we should go with our current facilities, and we need your help to make this process a success.

Engel

Our district faces two pressures that create a need for long term facility planning. First, we are seeing a continued decline in enrollment – fewer children are attending our schools than they were five, 10, or even 20 years ago due to a continuing downward trend in birth rates to. county wide.

This means we have less income to run our schools and more underutilized space in those same buildings. Lower income ceilings due to declining enrollments have led to deficit budgets and impacted our ability to attract and retain staff. These deficits have also started to negatively affect the programs and services we need for our students.

Along with the decline in registrations, our buildings are aging. Five of our buildings are over 80 years old. Our six oldest buildings have deferred maintenance needs of over $ 30 million.

While these buildings are safe and acceptable for educating our students, they do not meet the modern educational needs of these students and are not fully maintained to current standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). These facilities were built to educate students in the 1920s and 1930s, not 2021.

Over the past decade, our district has taken steps to reduce budgets, increase services, and strengthen schools. The Northside Elementary School building consolidated two buildings into one and significantly reduced overhead costs. We need to reconsider this type of strategy to further reduce overhead and become more efficient so that we can invest in what matters most, the education of our students.

The La Crosse School District has strategically managed its debt and we are currently experiencing historically low interest rates. As a result, we have the opportunity to go to the referendum and invest in our community through upgraded or new school facilities that meet the modern educational needs of all of our students.

We ask that you please sit down at the table and make your voice heard by completing our Long Range Facilities Planning survey so that we have more information to guide our work. Please complete and return the survey by November 18 so we can learn more about what you think is the best course of action.

Strong schools and even stronger communities can only happen with your collaboration, contribution and support.

If you have not received a survey but are interested in participating in the process, please contact the office of the Superintendent at 608.789.7628 and a copy of the survey will be sent to you.

For more information on the long-term facilities planning work done so far, please visit www.lacrosseschools.org.


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