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Preschool is a priority

Starting as early as October, parents of 4-year-olds living in the Lake Park-Audubon School District should have an opportunity to enroll their kids in an all-day preschool program every Monday through Thursday.

Mahube-Otwa Head Start applied for a $25,000 Early Childhood Education Scholarship grant from the state of Minnesota earlier this year, and has received preliminary word that the grant was approved, LP-A Elementary Principal Sam Skaaland informed school board members Monday at their regular meeting in Audubon.

“We should receive the official word (on the grant’s approval) from Minnesota’s education commissioner in September, and begin serving children and families in October,” said Skaaland after the meeting.

Also at Monday’s meeting, Skaaland said that as of this week, elementary enrollment for LP-A stands at 382 students in grades K-6, and projected kindergarten enrollment in 2014 is 70.

“It’s very conservative to say that we could be at 400 students in the elementary (grades K-6) next year,” he said, adding that if the Early Childhood and Head Start programs are included, that number could be “at least 430.”

LP-A Superintendent Dale Hogie said that if this trend continues, the district may have to step up its plans for building an early learning center to house the district’s Early Childhood, preschool and kindergarten instruction programs.

“We don’t have any more large spaces (in the existing elementary building) to convert to classrooms,” he said.

In other business, the board discussed the possibility of starting a cheerleading program, after Hogie informed them that he had been approached by a group of high school students who were interested in it.

Hogie said that there were at least 19 students who had indicated interest in the program, but also noted that “the last few times we’ve tried cheerleading, we’ve struggled with it.”

Board member Bryan Anderson noted that while initial interest may be high, that might not translate into sustained participation in the program by enough students to make it viable on a continuing basis.

Board member Jeff Swetland suggested the possibility of having an outside group, such as a booster club, take on the responsibility for supplying uniforms, travel expenses for away games, etc.

“If they want to take it on, I don’t want to say no,” Swetland said.

The consensus of the board was that they would not pursue the addition of cheerleading as a school-sponsored activity at this time.

Hogie also brought up another matter during the meeting that generated some preliminary discussion: What to do with the old high school building and surrounding property in Lake Park.

Though realtor Steve Larson is continuing to pursue all available options for selling the building, Hogie noted that the board may have to begin considering other possibilities, such as demolition.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454