Eau Claire School District Looking For New Ways To Raise Revenue

Licensing In-House Teaching Materials, Naming Rights, Virtual Charter School On List Of Possibilities

Students walking in the hallway
Hans Pennink/AP Photo

In an attempt to have more control over its own funding, the Eau Claire Area School District is looking for new ways to make money.

School districts looking for more money can lobby the governor and state lawmakers for more aid, ask local property taxpayers to approve referendums or find savings through cuts. Eau Claire School Board President Joe Luginbill said they’ve done all that.

In 2016, voters in the school district approved an $87.9 million referendum that funded teacher pay raises and additional staff to maintain smaller class sizes. Despite the referendum, it was reported this spring that the district faces a $5.8 million deficit.

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Now, Luginbill said the school board is looking for new ways to make money for itself.

“The strategies that we have employed up until now, they’ve been crucial, but they’ve really been about keeping what he have,” said Luginbill. “So, I really hope that we can have that shift to not only talking about what we need to survive, but talking about what we need to thrive as well.”

The ideas brought up thus far include licensing and selling educational materials made in-house, creating virtual charter schools, creating adult education courses or partnering with banks on things like naming rights.

“And one of those also that we talked about was the school district completing a survey of the land that we own and working with the consultant to determine opportunities, assessing that real estate, housing and development potential that we have,” said Luginbill.

Luginbill said being a large district offers leverage in finding new revenue.

“It’s really leveraging that power that we have as a school district, that negotiating power, that power in terms of our institutional size, that bargaining power, that buying power and taking those and saying we need to be looking out for the future of our district,” he said.

Luginbill said what works in Eau Claire could also work for similar sized districts around the state.