Prairie du Chien School Board

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Prairie du Chien School District 

to partner with other stakeholders 

regarding reuse of hospital building

By Ted Pennekamp


The Prairie du Chien School Board voted unanimously Monday night to partner with the Prairie du Chien Economic Development Corporation, the Crawford County Economic Development Corporation and Crossing Rivers Health regarding exploring all options about how to best utilize the soon to be vacant former Prairie du Chien Memorial Hospital located at 705 East Taylor Street in Prairie du Chien.

The board heard a presentation by Bob McDonald of the Prairie du Chien Economic Development Corporation about a business plan for the reuse of the hospital building which may involve an educational component within the multiple use concept. 

“The educational component is an important piece,” said McDonald, who noted that a decision will need to be made within the next five months regarding what to do with the facility. McDonald said that there will be no dollars needed from the school district and that the plan is very flexible. 

“We will be trying to find the best possible use for the community and are exploring ideas,” said McDonald. “If we can’t make a decision, it will probably be torn down. Then it is a matter of making the best use of the land, which would probably be residential. The idea is to get as much use out of the building as possible.”

The River Valley Initiative (RVI) also made a presentation before the board about partnering with the school district regarding developing a plan and finding funding for a possible educational use for the building. 

River Valley Initiative President Julia Henley, along with Judy Wall and J.D. Milburn, all spoke before the board about possible uses for the building such as a technology education support system, adult education, teaching “hard employment” skills, and using part of the building for a residential area for foreign adult students. Prairie du Chien Superintendent Drew Johnson noted that many people from China, for example, come to the United States to further their education. He said that Janesville, Wis. has such a facility. 

J.D. Milburn said that RVI would use the school district’s name for grant writing purposes. Milburn emphatically stated that RVI’s plan is not in competition with the Prairie du Chien Economic Development Corporation, but in fact would enhance all other plans and add to the number of ideas for the building.

Milburn told the board that he has been involved in at least 10 unique and successful building reuse plans across the United States including the Platteville Public Library and the Green County Courthouse. “We have discussed this with the hospital and would like to shine a light on potential uses that would work as well a potential revenue sources,” said Milburn. 

Julia Henley told board members that RVI is not asking for any money up front from the school district, and that the district could also reject any proposal.

The Prairie du Chien School Board voted unanimously to decline RVI’s proposal as written. The board then voted unanimously to consider any future proposals or ideas from RVI or any other entity regarding possible educational uses of the hospital building, and/or any other educational enhancement ideas not involving the hospital.

In other business, the board:

•heard a presentation from Lisa Mink about early literacy interventions and the B.A. Kennedy Library which showed ever increasing use of the library by students. “In B.A. Kennedy, we have the premiere early education program in the Midwest,” said Superintendent Johnson in citing all of the programs, innovations and hard work being done at B.A. Kennedy.

•held officer elections. Christine Panka was re-elected as board president. Nick Gilberts was elected as vice president. Lynn O’Kane was elected as clerk and Devan Toberman was elected as treasurer.

•heard an overview of the Bluff View Gateway to Technology program by GTT teacher Nathan Bartlett. Afterward, the board voted unanimously to purchase two new 3D printers for approximately $3,200 to enhance the GTT, technology education and design programs at Bluff View.

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