Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – With more than six thousand students under their care the La Crosse school district is at a crossroads.
Enrollment numbers are dropping. Which means something has to give.
One option is shuttering district facilities instead of programs.
In the last 19 years. The number of students enrolled in the La Crosse school district has dropped by more than a thousand.
A trend superintendent Dr. Aaron Engel says is tied to smaller families.
“birth rates have substantially changed over the years, if we look back to the 1950s and those baby booms, we’re half the rate that we were at at that time, and they’ve continued to decline since the 90s.”
Fewer students mean less revenue, which makes it difficult to manage the 15 buildings currently operated by the district.
As a result, a survey has been sent out to get the community’s feedback on different consolidation plans.
“Engel says the most urgent need in the district is at the middle school level, where upkeep on aging buildings is becoming very costly.”
“Longfellow middle school, Lincoln middle school, and Logan middle school were all built before 1940, they’re at least 80 years old, and so they just have a lot of differed maintenance that they need.”
The district is proposing closing one of the schools, which would provide greater resources for the other two.
“Combining the two high schools is also on the table, either as one consolidated school, or using a unique method to keep both schools intact.”
“The west bend school district operates two high schools in the same building, they’re able to retain some unique identities for their two populations there, and so that is a model that we could explore and it’s a question that we ask in our survey to find out what folks think about that idea.” Said Engel.
The survey will help generate a long-range facility plan, which Engel hopes creates a brighter future for the district.
“This study paints a bit of a dire picture in terms of enrollment and differed maintenance, but we also have an incredible opportunity to potentially add to the school district, to build something new.”
The results of the survey will be announced at a school board meeting in early December.
To help save money, the district is also planning to close the Hogan Administrative Center in the next two years.