Planetarium upgrade included in La Crosse school grants

Local News

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Grants from community donors will be benefiting students at every grade level in La Crosse schools. First News at Nine’s Alex Loroff spotlights one grant that will provide an “out-of-this-world” experience.

Thousands of dollars in grants will help expand learning opportunities in La Crosse.

The La Crosse Public Education Foundation (LPEF) approved 13 grants totaling $41,800 this week.

It’s the third round of grants announced this school year, with applicants needing to fit certain criteria to receive funding.

“Typically in a year we fund somewhere between 60-70% of the proposals that come to us, but we can’t fund all of them,” LPEF Executive Director David Stoeffler said. “We have to pick and choose the ones that bring the most innovation and have the biggest impact on the number of students.”

One of the grants will be going to Central High School to upgrade its planetarium, which will also benefit the district as a whole.

“We’re going to add another 115 shows by getting all the grade schoolers through, I’m expecting to start getting more districts from outside, private groups, and public groups,” Planetarium Director Chad Wilkinson detailed.

A $5,000 grant will kickstart fundraising to purchase a $250,000 full dome projection system.

Once it’s upgraded, the planetarium will turn into the La Crosse School District’s Exploratorium.

Wilkinson is grateful the foundation is recognizing the value of STEM programs in the school district.

“The support with LPEF and the District of La Crosse to commit to science, math, education, technology, it’s overwhelming,” Wilkinson said. “I can’t believe I have the opportunity to get kids in here now, it’s just so exciting.”

In La Crosse, Alex Loroff, First News at Nine.

The planetarium’s new projection system will cost two hundred-fifty thousand dollars, so the LPEF is helping to secure additional funding.

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