West Salem gives green light in two referendums

Voters in West Salem voted “yes” in two school district referendums Tuesday.

After multiple failed attempts in the past, district officials now have the OK to go forward with a new set of plans to make improvements to the 35-year-old building.

The latest proposal created two referendum questions for voters in West Salem. One asks for $20 million in improvements for the aging middle school, while the other asks for $5 million to upgrade the district’s athletic complexes.

The athletic campus improvements would include upgrades to the track and football stadium, as well as new softball diamonds, tennis courts and a multi-purpose event center on land purchased from La Crosse County that could host indoor hockey games in the winter.

The new middle school plan would include updates to infrastructure, as well as a new cafeteria, gym and classrooms to double the size of the current building. Those renovations could also address growing populations in other school buildings in the school district.

“The expansion will allow us to bring the 5th grade from the elementary (school) across the street, so we’ll house (grades) five through eight in this building, instead of just six through eight, which will alleviate the crowding in our elementary school,” said West Salem School District Superintendent Troy Gunderson.

As part of the plan, the Boys and Girls Club of West Salem would also move into the building, taking over the current basement, gym and locker rooms.

The two referendum questions were approved by the school board, both with unanimous votes.