The School District of Onalaska will now do its business from the same building Festival Foods started in.

Onalaska’s School Board voted Monday night to use next year’s projected budget surplus to buy the first-ever Festival Grocery Store at 237 Second Ave. for $872,000. It was listed at $1.15 million.

They’ll also likely chip in an additional $450,000 to renovate and remodel the interior.

The current district offices at 1821 Main St. are going to be sold to Altra Credit Union for $570,000, for purposes unknown at this time.

The $750,000 difference in prices will be covered by various areas of budget surplus, such as added state aid and Medicare reimbursements.

“It’s perfect,” board vice president Heather Sysimaki said. “The stars have aligned.”

Paul and Jane Skogen started what would become a chain of over 20 grocery stores at the site the school district just voted to move into. That was in 1946, and the grocery store stayed for a little over 50 years until it became a Festival Foods Support Center. But the company outgrew the support center under the direction of Paul’s son Dave Skogen, building a larger building on the other side of town.

The property in downtown Onalaska went up for sale in 2015, and the school district pounced on the opportunity.

“I’m happy they decided that this was their place to be for another one hundred or two hundred years,” Dave Skogen said. “The school district will take good care of it.”

The support center is about three times the size of the current district offices, with enough room to include offices for pupil services, data services and the district’s Buildings and Grounds Committee under one roof. All of these take up 8,000 square feet at Onalaska High School and Irving Pertszch Elementary School—space which will be converted into six classrooms as part of the move.

“I don’t think enough can be said about getting everybody in the same building,” Board Treasurer Jim Driscoll said.

The district would have 45 days to move into the Festival building after its Sept. 15 closing date.


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