Hogie spells out facts about LP-A bond vote
Lake Park-Audubon schools and communities have an exceptional opportunity waiting for them.
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has selected LP-A as the recipient of two federally funded programs that will provide interest free bonding authority totaling over $19 million.
If voters approve the building bond referendum on Tuesday, the district will recognize a $10.5 million savings in interest when compared to the last facility proposal.
The MDE awarded a total of $81.57 million in QSCB bonding authority to school districts in 2010, and LP-A was awarded $17.35 million of that total and an additional $1.69 million in QZAB authority.
As the election date approaches, several inaccurate claims and a significant amount of misinformation have been circulated by a group opposed to the building bond referendum.
Many times mere opinions are misrepresented as facts. Some of the erroneous statements are similar to prior misrepresentations, but it has become increasingly difficult to predict what distortion will be circulated next.
I am unable to address all the misinformation without monopolizing space within the newspaper. I urge you to visit www.lakeparkaudubon.com to review the actual facts and see corrections to misinformation.
I am compelled to address a few points that residents need to be aware of. The speculation that I have personal or professional motives for the proposed construction project is absurd to anyone who knows me.
Those who do know me will attest to my commitment to providing the best affordable opportunities for the students of LP-A.
My dedicated service to children is accomplished through diligence, ethical practices, and open communication.
Contrary to what a few claim, the LP-A Board of Education has the same commitment and operates in the same manner.
The performance of LP-A students and staff has been exemplary, even in the inadequate conditions they experience daily. I am committed to removing the multiple barriers that impede their opportunities for even greater levels of achievement.
The LP-A Board of Education and I have worked with Zerr Berg Architects, Inc. and Gehrtz Construction Services to develop proposals to be approved by MDE.
Each time, the MDE has judged our proposed construction to be educationally and economically advisable.
The MDE also determined LP-A meets the competitive criteria for both Qualified School Construction Bond authority and Qualified Zone Academy Bond authority.
Ehlers and Associates has consistently provided accurate financial projections that have proven to be modestly conservative to the benefit of the taxpayer.
The suggestion that LP-A is not a viable district is ludicrous.
The latest cumulative data posted on the MDE website shows that LPA is larger than 34 percent of the school districts in Minnesota. Does anyone honestly suggest that every time a district of LP-A's size needs to address major facility needs, they instead should close the doors and move to the next town where a facility can be constructed to house the influx of new students?
Even some of the most adamant opponents to the building bond referendums applaud the accomplishments of LP-A's students and teacher quality. Why would you want to disrupt that?
The LP-A Board and I have never hidden enrollment figures.
We examined preschool census numbers, open enrollment numbers, projections from the Minnesota State Demographer, and the impact these factors will have on future enrollment potential.
We shared the same information at public meetings, in district mailings, and on our website.
There are more preschool children in the district today than there were 10 years ago.
The data does show declining school age enrollment over the last 10 years, but the data also clearly illustrates a nearly equal spike in students open-enrolling out of the district over the same period.
Consequently, the data unmistakably shows stability in the number of school age children residing in our district over the last 10 years.
The increase of students open-enrolling out corresponds to the time when facility deficiencies were first addressed.
Combining this information with Minnesota demographic projections proves there is more potential for enrollment growth than there is for declining enrollment in the district.
Parents do commute to work and will continue to do so. Families do relocate to areas with good schools, and new construction does provide appeal.
Three regional schools smaller than LP-A have experienced enrollment growth after new construction: Ulen-Hitterdal, Underwood and Win-E-Mac.
LP-A provides a great location in the lakes area, and provides an easy commute to Detroit Lakes or the Fargo-Moorhead area for employment. This is proven daily by the number of residents commuting to work from this area.
LP-A has a rare opportunity to borrow $19 million for a period of 17 years, with no interest. The district will recognize an interest savings of $10.5 million.
If LP-A voters do not support this proposal, the $19 million bonding authority is passed on to another district or other districts in Minnesota.
The LP-A Board and I have openly sought input, presented validated information, and honestly answered questions.
I urge all eligible voters to make their decisions based on documented facts, not opinion or unsubstantiated statements.
-- Dale Hogie, superintendent of Lake Park-Audubon Public Schools