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Tough times ahead for LP School

February 23, 2009

by Aaron Schultz

It has almost gotten to the point where I avoid watching the state and national news.

True, I’ve never been a big reader of the A section of the StarTribune, sticking to the sports section of the daily newspaper.

However, I usually watch the network news, and always try to catch some CNN to stay up with what is going on in the world.

Fact of the matter is, we are all going through some tough times, with the economy the way it is.

These tough times have hit home for many of us, me included.

Out and about in our communities, the conversation almost always turns to which local company has been laying off people, or someone we know who lost his or her job.

The newest item that has hit many of us locally is the proposed budget cuts at Lester Prairie Schools.

For a complete breakdown of all the facts, and what might have to go, check out Linda Scherer’s story on the front page of the Herald Journal.

I won’t even attempt to get into the nuts and bolts of the proposed cuts, and what it will all mean for the students who attend Lester Prairie, along with the community, in general.

That takes someone much smarter than myself.

But, as I look at some of the proposed cuts, I quickly turn my attention to the extracurricular section in Linda’s story.

Going down the list, my heart drops a little as I pass every line.

First, is the possible drop of C-squad programs, followed by moving junior high programs to Community Education.

Then, there is eliminating cheerleading, cross country, and wrestling – just to name a few of the programs.

These are all possible cuts that are tough for me, personally, to take.

By no means am I upset with the school board or Superintendent Greg East for these proposed cuts.

I do understand that drastic steps may need to be taken.

With that said, it doesn’t make me feel any better about what just might happen over the next few months.

In reality, losing coaches and supplies for specific sports are minor compared to losing teachers and entire programs.

For one, I couldn’t imagine moving junior high sports to Community Education, or the loss of C-squads for sports that have enough participants to have it.

Then, there is losing cheerleading, which is a staple of high school sports, especially football.

Of course, the dropping of cross country may even be worse.

Lester Prairie has had a long and storied tradition of strong cross country teams.

For me, I’m not much of a fan of running, but I have an appreciation for the sport, and the dedication it takes to participate in it.

Getting down to it, the sport that may be dropped that hit me the hardest is wrestling.

True, numbers have been down, forcing LP to pair with Glencoe-Silver Lake for a few years.

However, I’d like to think it is on the rebound.

As a former wrestler at LP during my days in school, that cut would be tough to watch.

Moving away from the extracurricular section of the possible cuts, I really realize how tough the next few months are going to be for LP Schools.

From losing band to yearbook to several teachers, these are truly some tough times.

I guess my biggest fear is that making all these cuts will put LP school into a downward cycle that it will never be able to come out of.

Again, not having any inside information, or knowing anything more than the average Joe, I just have a fear that this could spell the beginning of the end for LP.

Should all, or even many of these cuts go through, does LP face the real possibility of losing even more students to open enrollment?

I know that when I was in high school, if LP would have cut wrestling, I would have looked at transferring to another school in order to wrestle.

Or, how about if you are big into music and playing an instrument? With band no longer available, will those students look to move on?

I know this is all doom-and-gloom, but it is just what is popping into my head right now.

I do have all the confidence in the world that with strong community support, LP schools will come out on the other side of this alright, as long as the students don’t stop coming.

That is my true fear. Should all of these cuts become fact, and get implemented next year, what will happen to the student population?

As long as student numbers stay steady through this tough time, I have no doubt that everything will come out alright.

Now, let’s just hope that things turn around sooner, rather than later.