Parents criticize La Crosse School Board and superintendent over consolidation

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — The La Crosse School District’s plan to consolidate high schools has some parents criticizing not only the plan but also the school board and superintendent.

A $194.7 million referendum in November will allow La Crosse voters to decide if they want a new high school. If the referendum does not pass, Superintendent Aaron Engel says all future students could go to Central High School.

“They’d have to rework the busing routes,” said Jesse Martinez, president of La Crosse Education Association.

The school district sent out a survey in June that found nearly 60% of families who responded agreed to consolidation in a new building.

Parent Meg Konczakowski says consolidation means longer travel times for some families.

“Where it is going on the South Side of La Crosse is too far of a burden for so many people, especially for those who live on the far end of French Island and on the far end of the North Side of La Crosse,” Konczakowski said.

She believes Central High School is not large enough to hold all future high school students.

“1,500 is capacity I think at Central and 1,000 at Logan, and if they were to put the two together in Central should the referendum not pass, that’s well over capacity for Central High School,” she said.

The district says it will also reduce staff members by consolidating.

“If a teacher left the district, they just wouldn’t rehire that position or as folks retire, they just don’t rehire those positions,” Martinez said.

Engel says reducing staff will allow the district to pay teachers higher wages, but Martinez disagrees.

“From what I have seen, that is not enough to keep up with the rate of inflation,” he said.

Konczakowski believes the school board gives Engel too much power.

“You’re working for the taxpayers, not the superintendent, yet you’re going along with him because that’s the way your board is run,” Konczakowski said.

She wishes the board had more members who disagreed with Engel, like now-former board member Rob Abraham, who resigned Monday.

“I think that’s sad that there’s not people that are working together with different opinions rather than everyone having the same opinion,” Konczakowski said.

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