La Crosse Schools referendum would fund educational programs, te - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

La Crosse Schools referendum would fund educational programs, technology

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – On June 30, the La Crosse School District’s 5-year $21 million operating referendum will expire.

The district is hoping voters go to the polls in April and renew it. Since it’s for the same amount of funding, taxes will remain the same.

This new referendum will still fund educational programs, building and safety maintenance, and technology. But money allocation will be different.

More funding will go toward educational programs that, according to the district, will keep class sizes low and quality of instruction high.

"Keeping the class sizes smaller gives me more time to work with my students,” said first grade teacher Lacey Sinn.

Seventeen students fill her classroom at Hamilton Elementary.

"At this age, they're developing so much as learners, as readers as writers, and math,” Sinn said. So giving them one-on-one time is important, she added.

La Crosse Schools implement the Student Achievement Guarantee and Education Program (SAGE). It keeps class sizes under 18 students in kindergarten through third grade, according to Dr. Troy Harcey, associate superintendent of instruction.

Funding comes when 50 percent of students are on free or reduced lunch at school, Harcey said. La Crosse funds SAGE for all elementary schools to give each student an equal learning opportunity, he added.

But that program could be on the chopping block if the La Crosse School District's referendum doesn't pass.

"Our students are so much more than a test score and we know when you've got some smaller class sizes, you've got an opportunity to develop a relationship,” Harcey said.

The district said it has already worked to balance the budget by reducing expenses by $9 million, eliminating about 80 positions, reducing retirement benefits by 35 percent, and shifting many benefit costs to employees.

Even with an approved referendum, the district expects to make about $2 million in budget cuts.

"So there are no sacred cows, as we like to say. Everything has to be put on the table and evaluated,” Harcey said.

Before the April 1 vote, the district will host two meetings to answer questions about the referendum. They'll take place Saturday, March 15 at 10 a.m. at the Weess Auditorium at Logan High School, and Thursday, March 20 at 6 p.m. in the auditorium at Hogan Administrative Center.
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