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Growing pains in LP-A: Early Learning Center cost is $2.8 million

A tentative price tag of $2.8 million has been placed on early plans for a proposed “Early Learning Center” adjacent to the Lake Park-Audubon Elementary School in Audubon.

LP-A School Board members reviewed a preliminary tax impact analysis for the project at their monthly board meeting on Monday in Audubon.

The document, which was prepared “for discussion only,” showed the tax impact of a potential bond issue of $2,865,000 on various types of property in the district, including residential homestead, agricultural homestead, agricultural non-homestead, commercial/industrial and seasonal recreational properties.

The projections, prepared by Ehlers & Associates, were provided for both a 10-year bond and a 15-year bond levy.

LP-A Superintendent Dale Hogie noted that on a $100,000 residential property, the average annual increase in taxes payable for 2015 would be $26 for a 10-year levy, or $9 for a 15-year levy.

Meanwhile, the total interest paid on a projected $2.85 million bond over a 10-year period would be $622,587, while over a 15-year period, the interest would be $1,833,291 — or about three times higher.

As has been discussed at school board meetings for the past several months, the need for additional space in the elementary building has reached a critical level.

Though the board has not reached any decisions on whether to proceed with plans for the Early Learning Center, LP-A Elementary Principal Sam Skaaland noted in a recent interview that every available space in the elementary building will be utilized for instruction this fall.

A former weight room has been converted into a special education classroom, and one of the building’s two music rooms has been re-purposed as a 3rd grade classroom (enrollment projections caused the district to add a third section of 3rd graders for the 2013-14 school year).

“The time to start planning (for expansion) is now,” Skaaland said, noting that it was unlikely the district could have new facilities in place until at least a couple of years down the road.

If built, the proposed Early Learning Center would provide classrooms for the district’s Early Childhood, preschool and kindergarten programs, thus freeing up spaces in the existing elementary building for additional sections of grades 1-6.

In a related matter, the board approved a total of $9,260 in renovations to the elementary building at Monday night’s meeting, in order to create additional spaces for storage and small group instruction.

In other business, the board:

  • Approved proposals of $128,625 and $3,750 from Hough, Inc., for two projects at the high school site including expansion of the paved parking area west of Raider Road and the gravel parking area east of Raider Road, as well as additional landscaping.
  • Approved the following staff positions for the 2013-14 school year: Carol Ricke, Title I Lead teacher; Terrence Rehder, bus driver; Corene Freeman, elementary school technology integration/media center supervisor.
  • Approved the following fall sports coaching positions: Cross country, Coral Lunde, head coach; football, Jed Swegarden, head coach, along with assistants Brad Dunham, Nicholas Paur and Derek Bjornstad, and junior high coaches Cole Wixo, Beau Kirkwood and Anthony Grieve; volleyball, Jamie Nelson, head coach, along with Mike Hall and Kristina Gordon as assistants, and Lori Wixo and Robyn Madson as junior high coaches.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

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