LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – The La Crosse School District is pressing ahead with plans to build a new elementary school on the city's north side.
Voters in La Crosse approved a $15.7 million referendum in November, allowing the district to construct a new school that will serve the students currently split between Northside Elementary's two campuses – Franklin and Roosevelt elementary schools.
The new school will replace the Franklin building, which will be torn down this summer, at Kane and Gillette streets.
Superintendent Randy Nelson said the district plans to eventually sell Roosevelt. Preliminary plans for the new school include a vast, rounded entry way leading into a cafeteria and gymnasium. The gym would be surrounded by outdoor courtyards, with those in turn encircled by the building's classroom spaces.
Nelson said the new facility includes spaces conducive to both one-on-one and small group counseling.
He said the current buildings, built long ago without the foresight for such teaching methods, often require small group classes to take place in hallways.
Nelson also said the new school's court yards would provide a lot of windows.
"One of the things we're focusing on is daylight in all of our classrooms," Nelson said. "No matter where you are in the building, you would have daylight coming into your classrooms."
"There's research out there that demonstrates strong correlation between academic success and that daylight," he said.
Nelson said consolidating two buildings into one also brings other efficiencies."The cost of electricity and utilities and things like that, those will no longer be ours for one of those buildings," Nelson said. "With that considered I'm thinking savings will be somewhere in the neighborhood of two to $3-hundred thousand a year."
Principal Laura Huber, who currently oversees both Franklin and Roosevelt and will serve in the same position when the new building is erected, said students will benefit from a better learning environment when the building is complete.
"We're going to have an opportunity for alignment and continuity that we didn't have before," she said. "Right now if we have a first grader that could benefit from things happening in the fifth grade curriculum, that's just not possible."
But Huber said, while the new, Northside Elementary will be built of fresh bricks and mortar, the attitudes and values found inside will be identical to the one's she's come to expect at Franklin and Roosevelt.
"There are people that can talk about their parents that went to these schools, their grandparents that went to these schools and the feelings they have about the surrounding community and the strength of family and the importance of education," Huber said.
"That's the part that we'll bring to the new school," she said.
Nelson said the school board could approve the proposed design as early as April 15.The school is expected to be completed by September 2014.
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