At the Nov. 25 School Board Special Work Session, the Lakeville Area Board of Education was presented with information and recommendations for how to address current and growing district-wide school building capacity issues.
Some of the recommendations were based upon the school building planning group’s work from July-October 2019, which focused on developing a 5-year plan to match students with appropriate learning spaces.
Enrollment projections indicate that over the next five years, student enrollment district-wide will grow by 11 percent, or 1,300 students, with the majority of the growth anticipated at the elementary level. “In a relatively short period of time, Lakeville Area Schools has gone from slow or no growth, to rapid growth, particularly at the elementary level,” said Dr. Andrew Barron, Director of Data Analytics.
Barron indicated that for the current school year, most elementary schools have already begun to make sacrifices to accommodate more students. In some cases, schools have had to convert commons or library space into classrooms using temporary walls. “Any [school] building that is over 100 percent of target enrollment has made sacrifices to learning,” said Barron. “To illustrate some of the sacrifices that are being made…At Lakeview Elementary, there is no space for pull-out programs. They are pulling out [students] to the media center. At John F. Kennedy Elementary, which is at 114 percent target enrollment, they are missing a sensory room for a special education programs. The farther you get [above 100% of targets], the more sacrifices have been made, like at Lake Marion.” Lake Marion, which needs five more classrooms, has the largest classroom deficit.
The work group, which was comprised of teachers, principals and administrators, developed recommendations which were presented to the School Board for consideration and discussion. The presentation was based upon the committee’s preferred solutions and the Administration’s analysis of other potential building space solutions long-term.
“We want to first share what the work group concluded and make you aware of what that is,” said Superintendent Michael Baumann. “From there, [the Administration] did some more analysis with options to consider based upon our last [School Board] meeting. We included a boundary change analysis.”
The committee’s recommendation emphasized new construction, rapid timeline, boundary changes in conjunction with any new construction, and a plan that would be aligned with the District’s strategic plan and long-term facilities task force recommendations (provided to the Board of Education and the community in June 2018), which prioritizes space for learning and keeping all Lakeville Area elementary schools at 600-700 students.
The first possible 5-year plan emphasized a building addition at Lake Marion Elementary this school year and a possible building addition at Christina Huddleston Elementary next year, both of which would utilize lease levy. Bond referendums would be proposed in order to purchase land and build an eastern and southern elementary, an Area Learning Center, middle school additions or a new middle school, an eastern/southern early childhood center combined with a new district and community education office, and a buildings and grounds facility.
The second possible 5-year plan emphasized school building additions at multiple elementary schools utilizing lease levy to extend the timeline for a new elementary school and other building needs through future bond referendums.
The third scenario emphasized boundary changes to extend the timeline for a new elementary school and other building needs through future bond referendums.
Among the scenarios presented, School Board members considered and discussed many factors including potential programming changes, boundary adjustment ramifications, and tax-payer implications. The School Board is expected to continue discussing long-term options for how to accommodate current and projected enrollment growth in the coming weeks.
To view the presentation given to the School Board, please visit Boardbook.
The School Board also revisited the Administration’s proposal for a building addition at Lake Marion Elementary. Principal Bret Domstrand provided information regarding the programming adjustments made for this school year to ensure learning spaces for all students. He indicated additional programming sacrifices would need to be made in order to accommodate the anticipated continued rapid enrollment growth for next school year and beyond without a building addition.
“We’ve made a lot of accommodations over the past few years,” said Domstrand. “My concern is seeing the projections for next year. We are looking at two additional (class) sections coming with what we know right now. It’s looming close…. With where we are with our current state of affairs something has to happen.”
The Lake Marion Elementary building addition, which will begin over the course of the next few months, is supported by lease levy funding to provide space for 200 more students by the 2020-21 school year. The 15,500 sq. ft. addition will be located on land off the east side of the building and will add 10 classrooms, two small meeting rooms, and restrooms. This project was formally voted upon and approved at the Regular School Board Meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 26.
To view the Lake Marion Elementary addition presentation, please visit Boardbook.