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Letter: LPA needs state help with construction inflation costs

We hope that area legislators will support these bills to preserve the integrity of our school construction projects that you as taxpayers voted to approve.

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In November of 2021, Lake Park Audubon School District voters approved a bond referendum to bring critical renovations to our elementary school and expand the career and tech education wing of the high school.

This referendum was the last step in many months of work to develop a plan that would benefit students and staff and provide high value to the local taxpayers who would help repay these bonds.

As the school board received bids for the construction projects, we found that an unprecedented level of inflation is impacting these plans. Nearly every school district that passed a referendum in 2021 and 2022 has been impacted by this inflation.

While we have taken steps to modify the plan to reduce costs – including forgoing roof replacements, playground replacements, food services changes, and gym renovations – it is clear that we will need additional help. Local residents stepped up to do their share; now we are asking the state for help.

Senate File 2615 and House File 2917 are currently being considered by the Minnesota Legislature. These bills would provide one-time state grants to school districts impacted by this unprecedented construction inflation.

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Much like the state has stepped in to provide relief to districts after floods and tornadoes, these bills would recognize that local taxpayers should not carry the burden when unforeseen economic disasters occur.

There is little doubt that this construction inflation was beyond control of any of our residents.

We hope that area legislators will support these bills to preserve the integrity of our school construction projects that you as taxpayers voted to approve.

(Becky Mitchell is school board chair and Tim Godfrey is superintendent at the Lake Park Audubon School District)

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