Lakeville Area Community,
Our community is thriving and our schools are bustling more than ever before. New housing and commercial construction can be seen throughout the Lakeville Area. As our cities and townships continue to grow, so does our student body.
This year, we welcomed over 11,000 students to the 2018-19 school year, which has the largest kindergarten class since 2008. We’ve experienced a 3 percent growth in enrollment over the past five years, and, as reported at the Board of Education meeting on October 9, projections indicate enrollment will likely grow 8 percent over the next five years. By 2024, we are anticipating 862 more students, and the majority of this growth is expected to be within our elementary schools. We are excited at the prospect of welcoming so many new students to our schools and acknowledge we are facing some challenges in the near future to ensure high-quality, personalized learning for every student.
Today, many of our schools are reaching a point at which capacity constraints present significant challenges, with four of our schools at or above maximum capacity. To ensure sufficient and appropriate learning spaces for our students, once dedicated program space has been reassigned as classroom space in many cases throughout our schools.
The District’s long-term facilities task force reconvened in February to develop recommendations for how to address and prioritize the many facility needs. Recommendations included: building additions, portable classrooms, boundary adjustments, new facilities or some combination of these options.
In addition to addressing facility needs, upward enrollment must also be met by increases in teaching staff to avoid increasing class sizes. Class size guidelines are set by the Board of Education to ensure suitable classroom environments for learning and must be taken into account for current and future staffing.
The District’s budget projections factor in changes in enrollment and indicate the need for additional resources in order to maintain a fund balance of 5 percent, the threshold required by the Board of Education, as well as to address space and capacity issues district-wide. State general education funding, which since 2003 has not kept pace with inflation, continues to put greater stress on all Minnesota school districts and their communities who must bear the cost of sustaining high-quality schools through budget reductions, fee increases and voter approved referendums.
As a community, the District’s capacity and resource challenges must be addressed soon. The District will be conducting a community survey this fall to gather important information from you to help the Board of Education and Administration prioritize needs to develop a plan to address the challenges ahead. Thank you for your continued support and commitment to Lakeville Area Schools and all of our students.
Michael A. Baumann