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LP-A eyes the possibility of a closed campus for new high school

The possibility of a closed campus for all students in grades 7-12 once the new Lake Park-Audubon High School opens in Lake Park this fall was a lively topic of discussion at Tuesday night's LP-A School Board meeting.

Though no formal proposal has been made, Board Chair Vicky Grondahl noted that there needs to be serious consideration of all the factors involved before a decision is reached.

Students in grades 7-9 have always been required to stay on campus throughout the school day, noted LP-A Superintendent Dale Hogie.

However, safety issues related to the location of the new school as well as student nutrition concerns had prompted the topic to be revisited at a recent policy and personnel committee meeting.

"Students that do leave (for lunch) just don't eat nutritious meals," Hogie said, adding that some even go off campus specifically to smoke and drink alcohol.

Closing the campus would be one way of alleviating such problems -- and the food service staff is also looking at the possibilities for adding new entrees, salads other choices to the school lunch menu in order to give students a better variety of choices.

Board member Jeff Swetland said he had been approached by several members of the community who were strongly opposed to the idea of students not being allowed off campus over the noon hour.

"It's not supposed to feel like a jail," he said, noting that allowing juniors and seniors the privilege of going off campus for lunch is one way of teaching them responsibility for their own actions.

However, as Grondahl noted, "We do have a responsibility (for their safety) when they are under our watch."

LP-A High School Principal Kevin Ricke noted that the strongest student opposition was likely to come from sophomores and juniors who would be faced with having privileges previously granted to them taken away.

In other business, the board members closed their meeting to the public toward the end of the evening in order to complete a 2011 job performance evaluation for Hogie.

"Mr. Hogie's strengths were identified as communication with the board, the community and the media; his knowledge of finance and budgeting," said Grondahl in a statement issued after the evaluation had been completed. "Areas identified for added emphasis in 2012 are board goal setting; staff development; and evaluating school personnel.

"Mr. Hogie received an overall rating of 'very good performance,'" Grondahl added.

"The LP-A Board feels very fortunate to have Mr. Hogie as our superintendent."

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