LA CROSSE Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Dozens of school districts across Wisconsin asked voters to pass a referendum in the spring election to address a variety of needs. Other districts are hoping to make a similar ask this fall due to aging facilities.
The school district of La Crosse has seen enrollment decline over the last decade and expects that trend to continue. Superintendent Aaron Engel says the district can’t financially justify running the number of buildings it does, with the current student population.
As a result, a plan is being formed to merge Central and Logan High Schools into a single, new building.
“To pursue a project like this, we were looking for a site that was at least 40 acres in size, if not bigger, and as centrally located as possible. The Trane Technologies headquarter building became the most viable option as we looked at all of our options,” said Engel.
If a new high school is built, the district’s three middle schools would close, and students would be moved into the Central and Logan buildings.
“Our high schoolers would get a brand-new building, and our middle school students would get buildings that are 30 and 40 years newer than their current ones,” said Engel.
Improving the middle school experience is also a primary focus for the school district of Onalaska.
“The middle school building was built in 1978, and there hasn’t really been anything substantial done to it since then,” said Superintendent Todd Antony.
Antony says renovating the middle school is the top priority for the district, but a plan will only move forward based on the community’s response to a survey being sent out next week.
“We anticipate that sometime in July, probably, the board will make the decision on how to proceed. If they were to decide to proceed with a referendum, we would be looking at the referendum being on November’s ballot,” said Antony.
La Crosse is taking a similar route, sending out a survey about the consolidated high school proposal.
“We hope that this idea appeals to a large percentage of our community, and we’ll be able to go to referendum in November,” said Engel.
Both La Crosse and Onalaska will be hosting listening sessions in the coming months to continue gathering community input. The La Crosse school district will be holding a community informational session at Lincoln middle school tonight at 6. Onalaska is planning similar opportunities later this summer.