Superintendent’s Message to the Community
Dr. Paula Henry
Lake Park Audubon School District
Superintendent's Message to the Community
Dear Raider Families and Friends,
The pandemic has certainly made the 2020-21 school year one of the most unique in the history of Lake Park Audubon. Fortunately, with vaccination now available to all Minnesota adults, we march toward the end of this school year with the expectation of a return to a more traditional school schedule in September.
While we had to adapt quickly to state mandates on school operations, the pandemic hasn’t stopped us from thinking about the future of education. A recent statewide survey by the respected research firm Morris Leatherman found that 80 percent of Minnesota adults believe the pandemic has shown us that daily classroom learning is necessary for students, while only 14 percent agree that we can effectively educate students with more virtual learning. That tells us a lot about the direction we need to go.
For nearly 18 months, our education staff and community volunteers have been studying the quality of our buildings and how we use them. They have absorbed a great deal of data from independent assessments of the district and reached the following conclusions:
- Our enrollment is likely to continue to grow, and we can increase the growth even more by continuing to increase the number of LPA students who stay local to go to school;
- Our high school, the newest building, is in good condition with only a small number of improvements identified to address education needs; and
- Our elementary school, with sections built 65 years ago, requires substantial investments to meet today’s standards for a modern, healthy, and educationally strong school.
Given the difference in the age of the two buildings, we shouldn’t be surprised by the differences in meeting today’s educational standards.
The school board is continuing to work through the assessments to identify the best plan forward. There is one very good piece of news we have learned – LPA has low school taxes compared to our neighboring school districts. Because we have a very diverse property tax base, a building project to address our elementary school needs that starts in 2022 will likely result in a tax impact of about $9 per month on the average home in our district. Agricultural landowners would be eligible for the state’s Ag2School tax credit, which will buy down over two-thirds of the tax impact on all farm acreage other than the one-acre that includes a farmer’s house.
Over the next month or two, the school board will be deciding their plan for moving ahead with these investments – any plan to make substantial changes in the elementary school will require approval by local voters. More information can be found at lpapavetheway.com, or by calling me at 218-325-0754. You can also email me at email@example.com.
The planning work also allows us to examine whether we should place all 6th through 8th-grade students in a middle school model. Learning needs to change as students approach their teens.
Among the most important differences are adopting interdisciplinary learning, which is understanding how school subjects connect, and the start of the next stage of emotional and interpersonal development that will determine these students’ adult attitudes and values.
We are continuing to hear input from staff, parents, and members of the community about the opportunities for shifting to a middle school model. One thing we know for sure – making this investment at the same time as other building investments will cost less than deciding to remodel both schools again in 5-10 years.
I want to thank all of the volunteers who have provided input to us during our planning process. Please keep an eye on the LPA Pave the Way website for more information in the coming weeks.
Dr. Paula Henry
Proud Superintendent of Lake Park Audubon Schools