Superintendent’s Message to the Community
Dr. Paula Henry
Lake Park Audubon School District
Celebrating Community Involvement in Planning for Growth And Long Term Facilities
(9th article in a series)
Greetings Raider Families and Friends.
Thank you for your continued support of our schools. Strong schools and their communities work together to make student success happen, and create great places to live.
In recent months, Lake Park Audubon Schools has been engaged in an educational planning process to determine how we can improve success for our students and prepare the district for the challenges we will face in the future. Part of this process has been to identify solutions for our aging classrooms that are both overcrowded and in need of repair, particularly for our younger students.
The decisions that are ahead of us will affect the future of all residents who live in this school district. I want to take this opportunity to answer some of the questions that you may have about this work.
What kind of planning process is the district following?
The District invited a diverse group of community members to learn and study together the needs of our students; including how to prepare students as 21st Century learners in a global society within spaces that are overcrowded and in need of repair, particularly at the elementary level (Pre-K through Grade 6). The role of the advisory group was and is to study District issues and recommend solutions to the LPA School Board. The District also hired ICS to lead us through this process, a consulting firm with extensive experience with school districts in this part of the state. ICS has gathered a wealth of data including facility assessments, demographics study, educational adequacy assessment and held 12 listening sessions with different stakeholder groups, including sessions that were open to all community members.
What did you learn during the the listening sessions?
Thank you to those residents in our community who were able to attend a listening session and gave feedback.
Highlights from the listening sessions include:
We have excellent teachers
It is great to have community involvement/parent support
It is good to see planning sessions already well under way/bringing in diverse people in the planning process
We have strong student activities and engagement, and teacher projects that involve students
The District faces funding challenges
We know change is hard and new ideas take time to be accepted
Can we improve child care availability?
There is not enough space for continued growth
Our greatest facility needs are the Elementary School as a whole, Collaboration Space and Childcare Space
We need to retain our teachers
Trust and transparency is needed for this process to work
The school board and administration must communicate better
Our salary schedules are low compared to other districts
We need to think and build for the future
We need to invest in our schools
As you can tell, the Listening Sessions covered more than facilities. Our goal was to understand how our community viewed the school district. We didn’t expect people to understand every issue facing the district as we wanted the most honest responses we could obtain. One attendee commented that he was very glad he came. It was a lot different then what he expected and really enjoyed it.
Will the district continue to look for community input?
As we look towards the future, our vision to engage the community in our growth and long-term facilities planning is not changing. The input and involvement of all residents is important, even if they just listen. I encourage you to stay engaged in the process and look for future opportunities to provide feedback, as it will be of great value in this process.
An important message for us to keep in mind as we move forward in the pre-planning process for District improvement is this: With school districts around us offering new and collaborative learning environments, we must focus on our own children, providing the best education possible, updating old buildings, utilizing spaces more wisely, and attracting and growing LPA district enrollment.
What are the next steps for the district?
First, we are going to communicate more effectively. During the listening sessions we heard that residents do not feel LPA administration and school board are being open and honest with communication. We take this feedback very seriously and in efforts to have better communication, a dedicated microsite has been created where you can find a wealth of information regarding the process, data gathered during the process and any upcoming events or meetings. Please check it out at http://www.lpapavetheway.com
Second, we need to take the input we have already received and prepare options for the community to consider. We have an obligation to provide healthy and safe schools that offer the educational opportunities that other districts have. In the last dozen years, nearly every Minnesota school district has proposed some kind of referendum – building, operating dollars, or both – to local voters for approval. But we want residents to have input in to options before we offer a referendum. Of course, some of us will want more ambitious plans, some of us will want smaller plans, and some of us may want no plan at all. The School Board’s job is to balance what the consensus of the community believes with what will provide the best value for staff and students. That means we have to listen to everyone’s opinion. Finally, the School Board and the community will join together to select the best proposal we can in this process, and together we will make a decision about that proposal. Without this hard work, improvement will never come to LPA.
If you have any questions about our educational planning, please reach out and contact me.
Dr. Paula Henry
Proud Superintendent of Lake Park Audubon Schools
LPA COMMUNITY LISTENING SESSIONS - RESULTS
Wednesday October 7th at 7:00 pm at the Lake Park Secondary School led by Glenn Chiodo
Wednesday October 7th at 7:00 pm at the Audubon Elementary School led by Lynn Dyer
Join via Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 946 2751 2246
One tap mobile
Dial by your location
Find your local number: https://ics-builds.zoom.us/u/aKXbYsG5
Meeting ID: 946 2751 2246
Vision 2020 and Beyond
Superintendent for Lake Park Audubon Schools
Dr. Paula Henry is the superintendent for Lake Park Audubon School District. Dr. Henry comes to Lake Park Audubon Schools from West Fargo Schools where she held the position of principal for the last seven years. She began her educational career serving in St. Cloud Minnesota Public schools. She had been a teacher, coordinator, and administrator for St. Cloud Schools for 21 years before serving as a principal in West Fargo.
Dr. Henry grew up in St. Cloud Minnesota, attended St. Could State University where she majored in education. She also received her Master’s degree from SCSU in Curriculum and Instruction with a minor in Reading. Her degrees in administration (Principal and Superintendent) were obtained from Saint Mary’s University in Minneapolis and SCSU. Lastly Dr. Henry received her Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Saint Mary’s University, Minneapolis MN.