Newsmakers, March 12, 2015

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State Budget Impact on K-12 Education; History By Postcard

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  • State Budget Proposal Impact On K-12 Education

    La Crosse area school superintendents say the proposed state of Wisconsin budget could potentially undo local control of public school operating budgets that community members voted to support just a year ago.

    The budget proposed by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker would reduce spending in each public K-12 school district by $150 per student. In the second year of the budget, spending per student would go up by $165.

    But school officials say that first year reduction would cut funding in the La Crosse School District by $990,000 in the 2015-16 school year. The Onalaska School District operating budget would lose $428,000 next school year.

    In spring elections in 2014, voters in each community approved operating referendums that would allow each school district to exceed state imposed revenue limits to pay for things like smaller class sizes and technology upgrades. La Crosse will receive $20.9 million over five years, Onalaska schools will receive $12.6 million for the same time. In each community, more than 60 percent of voters approved the measures.

    But they say if the governor’s budget is allowed to stand, local schools which have asked voters for the ability to exceed state revenue caps will be penalized.

    “If you want to have a better than revenue limit school district, you go to referendum, and your community gives you more money to operate,” said Onalaska school Superintendent Fran Finco. “That was like the best form of local control you could possibly have, but then the proposed state budget comes out, and all of this local control saying ‘we’re going to give you these things so we can have a better school district,’ that $428,000 gets pulled right out of the mix.”

    Finco and La Crosse Superintendent Randy Nelson say they remain committed to the promised intentions that were made leading up to passage of last year’s operating referendums, but the state budget proposal isn’t what will help them keep the promise.

    “When the dollars don’t come from the state side, it does put a strain on that (operating referendum promises,” Nelson said. “You need to remain committed to what you said you would do for the community. At the same time, you’re making reductions in other areas.”

    Finco and Nelson say they don’t have solutions yet for the state budget proposal. They both hope lawmakers will work to restore the money to K-12 schools.

  • History by Postcard

    A recently released history book about the city of La Crosse tells the story through a unique medium: the postcard.

    La Crosse was co-written by Laura Godden and Paul Beck, librarians with the Special Collections section of Murphy Library at UW-La Crosse.

    The book features sections on city parks, businesses and homes, early government buildings, work and leisure.

    Laura Godden says they chose the turn of the 20th Century to tell the story in part because of the postcards that were plentiful, but also because it was a formative time in the city’s history.

    “There was just a big change in La Crosse at that point and time because the city was taking shape,” Godden said. “People were more aware of what they wanted their city to look like in the future. You could see what people valued, and you could see how these people of the past have really made the city what it is today.”

    Paul Beck says there are about 2,000 postcards at Murphy Library that they had to choose from.

    “It was a postcard mania they called it from about 1910-1920. It was just such a popular way of communicating,” Beck said. “For a penny you could send a postcard. We have examples of cards where people are sending a postcard in the morning, reporting they made it safely from Stoddard to La Crosse. (about a ten minute car ride today) ‘I got here safely, see you tonight.’

    The book is part of the Postcard History Series that is produced by Arcadia Publishing.

Episode Credits

  • Maureen McCollum Host
  • John Davis Producer
  • Fran Finco Guest
  • Randy Nelson Guest
  • Laura Godden Guest
  • Paul Beck Guest

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