Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, June 22, 1998

LP board members ponder future at retreat

By MAGGIE SCHUETTE-VOSS

The Lester Prairie School Board held an informal retreat June 12 at board member Nancy Krull's home.

At Tuesday's regular board meeting, the board discussed its retreat and those attending stated what they wanted for the future of Lester Prairie Schools.

Chet Hoernemann

Hoernemann said he is committed to keep District 424 a separate district.

"Lack of space is an issue. I would like to see a summer program to assist the minor shortcomings evident in the three Rs with some students if funding or grants are available."

Hoernemann also supports an excess levy referendum and would like further research on it. He noted that class size is also an issue.

Fred Blaser

Blaser said he wants to keep a k-12 school in Lester Prairie.

"We have many fine teachers. We also have to look at the space issue."

Gene Starke

"I want to know what kind of money is involved in pairing. I think the best philosophy is to pair for grades nine through 12 and keep kindergarten through eighth in Lester Prairie."

Nancy Krull

"I think we have a good school, but if we don't do something, such as pair on the high school level, space will become an issue. I would like to keep the district, k-12 together, but we have to plan for space."

Murl Kletscher

Kletscher felt that pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade should stay in Lester Prairie.

Instead of pairing, he said he favors a tuition agreement with a neighboring district. This is where the district would pay a tuition for students to attend another school.

"Let the community decide which way they want to go," he said.

Barry Kyllo

Kyllo would like to see a k-12 school in Lester Prairie as long as possible. Kyllo has lived in Lester Prairie for four years and was not around when the addition was built, but understood a lot of hard feelings resulted.

Due to the need for more space, "If the voters don't see fit to back us on adding to the building, then we are going to have to look at pairing and sharing, unless we can find alternative uses for space in the community," he said.

Supt. James Redfield

Redfield said it is very important for Lester Prairie to be willing to cooperate with other schools, pointing out that interactive television and the special education cooperative have been successful.

He noted that before any type of pairing and sharing, the board should talk with all the surrounding school districts.

The retreat

According to notes taken by Krull, the purpose of the retreat was to review the role of the board in management of the district and to discuss long range planning.

The board spent much time talking about what makes Lester Prairie a desirable school and what it would take to keep it a desirable school.

Discussion also centered on the impact of school consolidations and options for pairing and sharing with neighboring districts.

The board has been approached by HLWW about consolidating, but does not appear to be leaning in that direction.

Much discussion focused on what was needed to keep the school strong and viable well into the future. Some ideas discussed included:

Some discussion at the retreat focused on the benefit of graduation standards and how to implement them effectively.

Questions were asked of administration as to what emphasis should be placed on test scores and Lester Prairie's ranking among other schools.

Initial discussions regarding the role of the board centered on clarifying administrative responsibilities and board responsibilities through policy.

The goal would be to eliminate board involvement in actions more suited to the administration and would free the board to focus on the direction the school is headed.

Kyllo shared information he had gained from an advanced board member workshop in Duluth.

While no agreements were reached, the board did direct Redfield to look into a modified agenda for meetings, which would handle routine business in a single vote.

The board also plans to review the information shared by Kyllo in more depth to determine how it may work with the board.


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