The Onalaska School District administration was settling into its new home in the former Festival Foods support center along Second Street last month.

The school district closed on the building in late September after agreeing to purchase it for $870,000 from owner Dave Skogen in July.

“We were glad that we were able to make a deal with Dave and Barb Skogen,” Superintendent Fran Finco said, adding that the building’s central location and history made it an ideal choice for the new district offices.

The 11,500-square-foot building was originally the site of Skogen’s IGA before becoming the Festival Foods support center.

“There is kind of a Skogen family legacy on this site,” Finco said.

The district had hoped to move in earlier last month, but the move was delayed after a survey revealed the building encroached onto city property by just over 18 inches. The discovery required a November vote by the the Onalaska Common Council to transfer the property to the district.

Once that was out of the way, the district set to work on a myriad of renovations to convert the former grocery store into the school’s new administrative offices.

A new roof was installed along with new heating and air conditioning and LED lighting. False walls were erected to make partitions for office spaces.

The move has allowed the district to consolidate many departments including accounts payable, information and pupil services, nursing, and administration, under one roof.

Finco said by moving pupil services to the administrative building, the parents can register their children from a centralized location rather than going to Irving Pertzsch.

“It feels more professional,” said Administrative Assistant Kristen Fay.

She said the move to the larger facility was a welcome improvement over the district’s old 3,600-square-foot administrative building, which is now owned by Altra Federal Credit Union.

“I think the best part of this building is having all services under one roof,” Fay said.

Finco said the district should hold its first school board meeting in the new location in early January.


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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