Herald JournalHerald and Journal, Aug. 26, 2002

HLWW raises plan to get public input followed by referendum in 2003

By Lynda Jensen

Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Superintendent George Ladd jumped into the sensitive issue of the school district's future by unveiling a one-year plan for gathering public input ­ setting a building referendum as a goal for November 2003.

The plans call for what nearly amounts to a search for public opinion in the next several months, to formulate what kind of building arrangement should be made, either new or remodeling of existing facilities ­ which hasn't been decided yet.

To spark public interest, Ladd proposed the idea of a new kindergarten through sixth grade building in Winsted; saying that he wanted to initiate public debate. However, he emphasized that this idea is just the starting point of discussion and that absolutely no ideas are set yet

If the board goes with the k-6 idea, depending on public input, the district may end up buying some of the Fiecke property land that was previously tagged for a new high school.

However this idea is not developed because the board wants to wait until the public speaks before it proceeds anywhere.

Regardless of which way the issue goes, land will be a deciding factor in any event.

What the district ends up doing may be something completely different than this idea, Ladd said.

"We want to give the public something to talk about," Ladd said.

The idea is to spur debate among the public, solicit input from everyone, and then formulate a plan of what the board thinks the public is asking for ­ within funding constraints, he said.

To this end, the board plans to approach key organizations and solicit input directly from people. "Then we have a good shot at getting the word out," commented Board Member John Lideen.

For those who are interested in reaching Ladd directly, his e-mail is gladd@hlww.k12.mn.us.

The board is planning several informational meetings .

Drug dog, cameras

Security cameras are in place, including one at the parking lot, High School Principal Mike Day reported.

The new drug dog "Pugsley," owned by the Howard Lake Police Department, also has a busy future planned at the school, Day said.

Pugsley may sniff lockers, bags, or any other objects at will, Day said ­ and will do so on a weekly basis, or more.

Pugsley is trained to simply sit and signal where there are suspected drugs, not to paw at the location, Day said.

The dog will allow the school to take a very proactive approach to drugs, Day said.

Staff changes

In other subjects, the board hired Josh Klenken as a new fourth grade teacher, a position which was promised previously by the board to keep class sizes down if the number of students hit 81 by Aug. 1.

The enrollment figure was 82 on that day, although this figure does change a great deal, reported Curriculum Director Dean Wessman.

Class enrollment figures as of Aug. 19 were: fourth grade 84; fifth 53, and sixth 65.

This will rearrange a lot of rooms at Humphrey, Wessman noted, because of the wide variety of room sizes and different configuration of classes.

The board also hired two others, Terri Collins who will replace school counselor Bridget Borner, and Lance Wurm, who was hired as an special education at the high school. Wurm can also double up as an elementary teacher, since he has the necessary background, Day said.

It was noted that social worker Sarah Terpstra was hired through the 21st Century grant for two years at 30 hours per week, and will be working with students primarily after school.

The board also accepted the resignations of Borner, ECSE para Melanie Schmitz, early childhood educator June Rick, and Waverly para Connie Piekarski.

A dose of Laker pride

Laker Pride Coordinator Vivian Mahlstedt presented the board with several ideas, based on two-way communication with the public.

The Laker Pride plan includes improved communication with the public, parents, and staff by using the newspaper, fliers, newsletters, one-on-one meetings, and other ways of communication.

She is in the process of calling open enrolled students, asking them why they left and how the school could improve. Laker Pride is looking for public input about school subjects.

The Outreach newsletter was also renamed "Laker," Mahlstedt said.

Mahlstedt also underlined the importance of pursuing excellence in communications, pledging to be timely accurate and proactive. The plan also includes improving internal communication as well.

Others on the committee for Laker Pride are board members Lideen, Charlie Borrell and Ken Zimmerman.

E-mail for Laker Pride is available at lakerpride@hlww.k12.mn.us.

Voice messages may also be left by calling the school number (320) 543-3471 and asking for the Laker Pride mailbox.

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