By ANDREA VARGO
The school district is growing, said Robert Wuornos, as he explained the demographic report to the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (HLWW) School Board last Monday.
Wuornos is director of marketing research from Northwest Associated Consultants, Inc.
"We have identified past and current trends, and you have to take that information and determine the future (for your schools)," said Wuornos.
"What happens with Twin Cities' development will affect what happens here," he said.
There are increasing job opportunities and industrial development within acceptable drive times on the western edge of the cities, Wuornos told the school board members.
"Highway 12 will help people decide where they will locate, and both Howard Lake and Waverly have new housing developments on-line," he said.
Waverly is working on a new industrial site, and Howard Lake is trying to work on the same problem, he explained.
"We did a traditional growth projection and a more rapid growth projection," he said.
By the year 2015, the slower rate would show 1,394 school age students and the more rapid growth projects 1,646 students according to the charts.
According to district records, there are 945 students for the 1997-1998 school year, not including the preschoolers.
Wuornos said, "The numbers we project can help you determine your facility needs. These figures do not reflect the open enrollment students or the parochial school students. Currently, you have 249 open enrollment students attending other schools, and 17 students being home schooled."
Board Member Randy Heuer asked, "How do we compare with other school districts with the home schooling and the open enrollment?"
"I suspect it is a little higher than other schools in the outlying areas, but the home schooling is about the same," said Wuornos.
Superintendent Riley Hoheisel said, "There are well over 100 students who attend other schools in the Winsted area because of the school consolidation. It is just closer for them."
"Some of the students are very loyal to other schools," said Board Member Mary Pettit, "and day care is another issue."
Hoheisel said that Winsted was one of the last district schools to operate without a high school. Many of Winsted's students went to Lester Prairie.
Board Member Leo Weber said the siblings in the families just followed the older ones.
Wuornos said, "You should be able to capture the families that move into the district."
Pettit said she didn't think the Laker Pride committee got good response from the survey that was sent out.
"You need to call and speak with someone or do a face-to-face interview to get good results," said Wuornos.
He said everything depends on what happens inside the metropolitan service area in the next few years.
"(This area) is an opportunity for people to live in a non-threatening community with the opportunity to be able to commute to a job," he said.
Hoheisel said he thought the culture and mindset of the community was toward growth.
"Howard Lake and Waverly are looking for industrial site properties. They are pro-active and progressively planning for the future," he said.
"(Both cities) are looking to bring new housing units into the market," said Wuornos.
Board Member Michael Steckelberg said, "The metro phone service in Waverly will give a boost to businesses and should be a significant draw factor for the district."
Hoheisel said there are almost 100 preschoolers enrolled in the district program, which is significantly more than in previous years.
"If we can find the right person to contact each one of the preschool parents, develop a script of questions, and develop a relationship with these parents, we can promote our schools," he said.
He said the parents should probably be contacted at least twice a year, and this should be followed up with printed materials.
At the end of the discussion, the board members decided to give the report, along with the architects' long range planning study done last winter, to the Buildings and Grounds committee.
The committee will come back in 60 days with
some recommendations for the board.