Two questions are on the ballot for Lake Park-Audubon School District voters this year, with both of them related to a proposed $23 million school building project.
Question 1 requests $21.63 million to provide more space, improve classrooms, and address deferred maintenance needs at LP-A Elementary School in Audubon, while Question 2 requests $1.33 million to provide more space for hands-on Career and Technical Education (CTE) and collaborative small group areas at the high school in Lake Park. Question 2's passage is contingent on the approval of Question 1.
A public open house and information meeting was held this past Wednesday, Sept. 22, at LP-A Elementary, with roughly two dozen members of the public in attendance.
LP-A Superintendent Tim Godfrey, Elementary Principal Craig Bahr and High School Principal Art Meyer took turns outlining the specifics of the project, including the needs, the scope, the cost and the timeline.
"The (elementary) building was designed in the 1950s," said Bahr, adding that it was originally a K-12 school. "We're at the point where we need to modernize."
He noted that the building has been added on to several times over the years, to the point where "it feels like five additions and not one school." One purpose for the building project would be to "make it feel like one common space," Bahr said.
In addition, he continued, they're running out of space to accommodate growing enrollment, and the HVAC system needs to be updated as well.
In Lake Park, while a completely new high school was built just 10 years ago, advances in technology and instructional methods have led to a need for more collaborative, small group work areas as well as space for hands-on Career and Technical Education activities. The main part of the high school project would involve renovating 2,700 square feet of existing CTE space, and adding another 1,100 square feet, "to improve space, functionality and accessibility," Meyer said.
So what would be the cost to taxpayers if the referendum passed? For an average-sized residential home in the district, valued at around $250,000, the tax impact would be an additional $9.42 per month for question 1, and $10 per month if both questions were approved.
Those who want to learn more about all aspects of the project can access the website that has been set up at lpapavetheway.com. Bahr and Godfrey also added that they are available to give tours, and Godfrey said "my door is always open" for people who have specific questions, or would like to discuss their concerns about the project in more depth.
How and when to vote
Though the fate of the referendum won't be decided until the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 2, early voting opened Sept. 17 and is available through Nov. 1.
Early voting can be done in person at the high school, anytime between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., through Oct. 22; between Oct. 22-29, the hours will be expanded from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and people can also fote between 9-11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30, and 8 a.m.-7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 1.
Voters can also apply for an absentee ballot, which can be mailed to your home or picked up in person at the high school. The ballot can either be mailed back to the school or returned in person during regular school office hours.
On Election Day, Nov. 2, polls will be open at the Audubon City Office, 357 4th St., and Lake Park City Office, 2032 Second St., from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The referendum ballot will be included as part of your general election voting packet.