A survey sent out to School District of La Crosse residents showed that the community is overwhelmingly supportive of the district updating and modernizing its facilities, with support of one plan that calls for consolidating its two high schools.
The results were released by the district on Monday and will be presented to the Board of Education on Monday night, and officials called the results a “clear” direction from the community.
La Crosse Schools has produced five options for the future of its facilities, as it faces a combination of aging buildings and equipment with a declining enrollment.
All of the district’s options include consolidating some of its elementary and middle schools, some calling for new construction, while two also include proposals to consolidate Central and Logan High School into one campus and repurpose the old buildings as middle school facilities. Some of the plans also call for relocating the district’s administrative offices. The school district’s survey was conducted by research firm School Perceptions. 4,664 responses were submitted of the 25,000 surveys mailed this fall, according to the district.
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That’s only about a 16.4% response rate but it featured a mix of voices and responses.
On whether or not the district overall needed updates to its facilities to reduce operating costs, improve efficiency and modernize learning environments, 71% of respondents were in favor.
On that same question only 8% of respondents said no, while the remaining roughly 23% were unsure and needed more information.
Questions to consolidate or reduce the amount of middle and elementary schools received similar support, with 79% and 70% of respondents voting in favor, respectively.
But when it came to the future of the district’s two high schools, a majority supported the plan to consolidate them to one campus, but it was not as overwhelming as the other plans.
Consolidating Central and Logan received 55% of support from respondents, while 24% were against and 21% were unsure and wanted more information.
In the event that the two high schools were consolidated into one campus, 42% of respondents said they would prefer one high school rather than maintaining two, individual high school identities under one roof, which only 11% of respondents preferred.
“These results are encouraging,” said superintendent Dr. Aaron Engel in a statement. “Our community understands the challenges we are facing with declining enrollment and aging buildings and has given us a clear sign to keep exploring all options to right-size our school district facilities.”
Respondents included a mix of residents, and about 57% of them did not have children enrolled in La Crosse Schools. The majority of respondents were 26 and over.
Those who answered the survey were also able to weigh-in on ranking the district’s performance. 82% of respondents said the district was “delivering a high-quality education,” while 61% said it was “managing funds appropriately.”
On whether the respondent would recommend the district to a friend or family member, respondents were largely responding that they were likely, though it ranged between being neutral and extremely likely to do so.
Once these results are reported to the board, the district will then use the data to finalize its long-range facilities plan. A second survey will then be sent out to residents again in the spring based on the completed plan, helping to lock down more specific details.
The full results from the community survey can be found at lacrosseschools.org.