School District of La Crosse struggling to gain students

When the School District of La Crosse received its headcount recently, they weren’t expecting as big of a drop.

“We were anticipating just through attrition that we would be down 100 students at least coming into this year,” School District of La Crosse superintendent Randy Nelson said.

The district actually lost 211 students within the last year.

“We graduated a large senior class and we brought in one of our smallest pre-K to K classes ever,” Nelson said.

Nelson says this downward spiral is not unknown territory.

“We build our cirriculum on the state standards and whether we have 7,000 students or 6,000 students, that’ll be the cirruculum moving forward,” Nelson said.

Enrollment has been declining for well over a decade, and fewer students means less money for the district altogether.

“The fact that we do have this decrease in enrollment is really something we’re looking at for the next year, and the year after, and the year after because it’s going to impact to a degree certainly the funding that we do receive,” Nelson said.

Nelson says another reason for the enrollment decrease is because the cities’ population is getting older.

“I think that sometimes daycare and those opportunities are issues because we’ve had so many fewer daycares in La Crosse county that we used to have especially in our city,” Nelson said.

Even the growing community of Holmen was surprised to see its enrollment take a dive.

The district had 77 fewer students.

“The families or people moving in either don’t have as many children as they used to or they are not school-aged residents in the district,” Holmen district administrator Kristin Mueller said.

Mueller thinks this issue is short-term.

“Right now we’re assuming this is an anomaly,” Mueller said.

Despite the tough reality these districts are facing, officials are hopeful things will turn around.

“We’re gonna keep going forward as we have gone forward,” Nelson said.

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