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Upgrades to LP School? Voters will decide
Aug. 24, 2015

Tara Mathews

LESTER PRAIRIE, MN – Lester Prairie School Board during Tuesday’s meeting approved a two-question vote for the Tuesday, Nov. 3rd election day. The election will take place at the school from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The first question will be a levy renewal of $493.36 per pupil funding. The second question will be an increase of per pupil funding of $375.

The second question will determine whether the board will have the ability to upgrade parts of its building.
“The board members discussed how much to levy for quite awhile because the school building needs improvements, but we don’t want to overburden the taxpayers in our district,” Superintendent Jeremy Schmidt said.

New legislation that allows school districts to combine their deferred maintenance and health and safety budgets also increased the amount of money a district can request.

A district with an older building can now request more than one with a newer building.

“All districts have been given the ability to request more money, but the new legislation benefits older schools more,” Schmidt said.

Lester Prairie School District’s building is 35 years old, which means the amount of funding it can request is higher than a new school could, according to Schmidt.

The board plans to use the levied money over the next 10 years to complete facility improvements including a roofing project, replacing leaky windows, security improvements, and an improved parking lot.

“We won’t begin parking lot improvements for seven or eight years, but the secure doors project is planned for next summer,” Schmidt noted.

If the district gets the amount it will levy for, it doesn’t plan to levy again for another 10 years, “unless something drastic were to happen,” he added.

“There are many benefits to rebuilding parts of the school,” Schmidt commented.

Rebuilding the parts of the school as planned would lower maintenance costs and create a more welcome environment for potential students, he noted.

Board sets 10--year goals

The board also approved its 10-year district goals at Monday’s meeting.

Its plan includes facility, communication, instructional, technological, and professional development goals.

The district’s facility goals include continuing replacement of all of the school’s roofs; beginning replacement of windows that leak; continuing pursuit of building improvements such as the possibility of a recreational learning center; and paving the parking lot.

Its communication goal is to further develop its plan to enhance district communication in six settings, including:

• online through its website, Twitter, Facebook, and its district messaging system;

• advertisement by working more with the Herald Journal;

• teachers’ websites, bios, links, lesson plans, and school work;

• “RSchool Calendar,” which displays school and community education activities, and school building use information;

• working with outside groups such as the Lester Prairie Foundation, booster club, and business association; and

• school board members working to increase recognition for students by sending cards.

There is one instructional goal the district included, which it to continue to develop a plan to support the diverse needs of its students through providing an elementary counselor/social worker, college credit classes for secondary students, American College Testing (ACT) preparation, and technical education program development to meet workforce needs in manufacturing.

Staff and teacher goals are divided into two categories; technological and professional development.

The district’s technological goals include to continue to move all of its enrollment forms for activities and building use forms to its website, and develop a plan to increase incorporation of “21st Century learning skills” into its curriculum.

LP school’s professional development goal is to provide better learning opportunities for staff in focus areas such as Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS), bullying prevention programs, teacher evaluations, and technology.

Odds and ends

In other business the board:

• heard a report from school activities director Blaine Walstrom. There are more students in cross country and volleyball this season, but fewer signed up for cheerleading.

Students interested in cheerleading can still join, he noted.

• approved substitute teacher pay for the 2015-16 school year, which will be $100 for the first 10 days, and $110 for each day after.

• expressed appreciation to Kelli Machemehl for painting a classroom.

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