Community invited to join activities, athletics study

The Spring Lake Park School District begins an activities and athletics study this month.

As enrollment swells, the district is exploring how it can increase participation in activities and athletics and, at the same time, maintain and increase the high levels of success Spring Lake Park programs already experience, Superintendent Jeff Ronneberg said, outlining the study at the school board meeting Oct. 8.

“… The research is very clear that students who are involved in student activities … really have increased levels of attendance, increased levels of connectedness and greater academic success,” he said.

With so much at stake, a close look at extracurricular activities and facilities will kick off with a “community conversation” Tuesday, Nov. 19, from 6-8:30 p.m. at the District Services Center, 1415 81st Ave. NE, Spring Lake Park. Everyone is invited to attend.

Spring Lake Park High School Activities and Athletic Director Matt St. Martin and the district’s Director of Community Education Colleen Pederson will lead the study.

Desired results of the study include increasing participation and success rates, working more closely with youth sports and booster clubs and assessing facility needs with projected enrollment increases, the district’s website states.

At the most recent school board meeting, enrollment sat at 5,456 full-time students district-wide – that’s 260 more students than the district served last year. A study completed by Reinhardt Consulting projects enrollment totals of more than 6,100 in less than 10 years, according to Amy Schultz, director of business services for the district.

A larger student population and increased extracurricular opportunities “puts a strain on our gym time, our ice time, our fields – all of those different things,” Schultz said at the board meeting, explaining the need to look at facilities in the coming months.

In addition to the scheduled community conversation, the district has developed a survey to analyze community perceptions of activities. The survey is available at http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07e8gbxvy9hngrxop5/a0215dhnlux5e3/questions.

“We want to look at how we can really position our programs for ever-improving success and involvement as our student population grows,” Ronneberg said.

Olivia Koester is at olivia.koester@ecm-inc.com

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