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Sauk Prairie School Board hears community education annual report


April 18, 2019

Kara OKeeffe

John Lehan, community education and recreation director, presents the annual report.

The community education annual report was presented by John Lehan, community education & recreation director for the Sauk Prairie School District during the Sauk Prairie School board meeting on Monday, April 8.

"Every year we try to tackle as many things as we can," said Lehan. "Some of the biggest projects we tackled this last year were senior entrance improvements, the outdoor pool and a brand new registration system."

The community center looked at many other registration programs and changed to a system that they hope will be easier for guests. All of the programs and classes for the center will now be in this program.

The center has recently added some new programming including, free movie nights, collage planning workshops, pickleball lessons, financial literacy, battledarts, free boot camps and yoga in the park, nutrition classes and much more.

"We are partnering with the Wisconsin Dells and Portage community departments to do four bus trips together in 2019 including a Milwaukee Brewers trip, Lake Wisconsin Cruise, Upham Woods hiking and canoeing trip and a trip to the Warrens Cranberry Festival," said Lehan.

The community center wants to make sure that there are plenty of activities for all ages. "We have always stressed within our building that from first breath to last, we want to make sure that within a daily basis that we have a multitude of ages within our building."

Over the last four years, the community center has seen a rise in participation in classes. In 2018, there were about 887 participants in classes. "The main source of growth has been from offering free movies, bingo and pickleball," said Lehan.

Many of the changes to the community center and new class and trip ideas came out of a needs assessment study that had 272 responses this last year. The survey helps the community center see trends and helps guide the center in what they should and can offer to the community. Out of the 272 responses, 154 indicated that someone in their household had participated in a class at the community center.

"We always ask how people receive their information," said Lehan. "The main resources are the brochure, which is number one and number two is the monthly email newsletter." The center mailed over 8,200 summer/fall program books.

The survey also asked people what they want in terms of programming and Lehan said, "They want to know about computer software, Spanish language, arts and crafts, cooking, gardening, skilled trades like home, auto, electrical, health and wellness, nutrition and dieting skills, parenting skills, exercise and tech programs like social media and website design."

A new question that was asked on the survey this year was, "If you're 55 and older what would you be interested in?"

"We are always trying to focus on our active agers," said Lehan. "They said things like light exercise, movement classes, outdoor programs and painting."

Lehan also touched on the afterschool club which is offered at all of the elementary schools. Bridges Elementary has the highest participation in afterschool club with 108 students. "I know it can be very stressful for childcare and we hope that the extended time for kid's afterschool can help families," said Lehan. There is also a summer and before school program put on by the community center.

Also within the community center building is a preschool and kinder prep program. The preschool has a two and three day option with sixteen kids per class and the kinder prep currently has fifteen full-time students and thirteen part-time students. "We hope both of these programs continue to grow," said Lehan.

For aquatics there is the indoor and an outdoor pool which are utilized throughout the year by swim team, swim lessons, lunch time laps, evening and weekend open swim, summer school lessons and many more.

"If you drive by the outdoor pool now, you'll see our maintenance team hard at work, working on tile repair and making sure when that June dates hits that the outdoor pool will be open," Lehan said.

The center is always looking for instructors. "We encourage people to share their talents with community members," he continued. "For example if you know of someone that knows about one of these categories like auto skills, send them our way. We will help find a way for them to offer a class to the community."

He ended his presentation by focusing on the impact of the community center. "We estimate that we served around 3,000 people in the community in 2018 and that doesn't include open swim and open pickleball," said Lehan. "Our impact is huge and we generate revenue within our system."

"Education is about improving the lives of others," continued Lehan. "I believe in leaving the community in a better place."


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