The Boys and Girls Club of the Greater La Crosse Area has raised almost $1.2 million of the $2.5 million promised to the West Salem School District in exchange for the long-term lease of the district’s middle school facilities now under construction.

Mike Desmond of the Boys and Girls Club (BGC) said during Monday’s school board meeting that all of the funds raised so far have come from West Salem residents. In the new year, the BGC plans to ramp up its efforts to spread the word about the fundraising campaign.

“We really haven’t been out to the masses,” said Desmond.

Desmond said the BGC will focus on fundraising in West Salem initially but will seek additional assistance from donors in La Crosse should they come up short.

“Our major donors in La Crosse are waiting to see that West Salem is supporting it,” he said.

When completed this fall, the BGC will begin operating out of the middle school basement and will share many of its resources with the district.

Desmond also raised the issue of donor recognition given the board’s sensitivity to naming buildings.He said, in most of their facilities, the BGC recognizes donors on both a donor wall located in a shared space and throughout the facility.

“We don’t name the room; we don’t call it the Troy Gunderson gym or anything like that,” he said. “We hadn’t planned to do anything like that here in respect for your policies.”

West Salem district policy prevents rooms or buildings from being named after an individual or business in exchange for financial assistance.

The school board can name a building or room in honor of an individual but not in exchange for financial support. Instead, Desmond asked the board if the BGC could recognize donors which sponsor programs, such as financial literacy, with a banner in the classroom in which it’s taught.

“I think our sensitivity was about naming the building,” board member Jane Halverson said.

Board member Ken Schlimgen, however, expressed concern with the plan saying, “we like the wall, we’re willing to do that, but we don’t want to commercialize the building.”

Desmond argued the banners were like advertising for the program and would not be permanent and might read something like, “career watch sponsored by Altra Federal Credit Union.”

“This is how you fund raise,” he said.

Halverson felt, under the circumstances, the banners should be acceptable.

“I do see the difference,” she said.

The board did not take any action on the issue. Desmond said the BGC would work within the constraints set by the board.


Coulee Courier reporter

Tobias Mann is a reporter with the River Valley Media Group. He can be reached at or at 608-791-8216.

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