Consolidated high school ‘may not be the necessity we project it to be’ if funding changes, La Crosse Superintendent says

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — Consolidation of high schools in La Crosse will not be immediate or even a guarantee, Superintendent Aaron Engel clarified Tuesday in a letter to staff and families.

“Last week, my family message included anticipated future building consolidation options based on our financial projections if a new consolidated high school is not built,” Engel said. “This included potentially consolidating into one existing high school in 5-10 years. This statement caused more significant concern in our community than I intended for which I apologize.”

In a previous message to families and staff, Engel implied that if a $194.7 million referendum to build a consolidated high school did not pass in the fall, the district would send all future high school students to Central High School. The letter caused a backlash among some parents and community members, including the abrupt resignation of a La Crosse School Board member.

Engel said that plan is only a potential option that would take place over the course of 5-10 years and isn’t necessarily a guarantee should the referendum fail.

“Consolidation of high schools is not guaranteed or immediate if we do not build a new high school and may be up to a decade away,” he said. “If the state commits to reasonable funding of schools and our financial situation changes, it may not be the necessity we project it to be right now.”

Engel blames the financial situation facing the district for somewhat forcing their hand when it comes to a long-range facility plan.

“With declining enrollment and limited state funding for education, our options are limited if we want to keep small class sizes and provide the opportunities kids need to be prepared for the future,” he added.

In his letter, Engel also made available the conceptual drawings for the proposed consolidated high school for the first time:

Web Trane Site Conceptual

To learn more about the referendum and to find a full list of community informational sessions, you can visit