LAGRANGE —What does it mean to be a Lakeland Laker?

That’s a question the school corporation is asking its constituents as the district goes through a reorganization process this summer.

School administrators are conducting a survey, asking people to answer nine different questions about the school system. Superintendent Eva Merkel announced the survey Wednesday morning in a mass email.

Merkel admitted Lakeland is going through a few changes. She added that the school’s staff feels that his is great time for the school and the community work together the help Lakeland become the best school system it can be.

Lakeland opted to close Wolcott Mills and Lima-Brighton elementary schools and is reorganizing the district into three buildings from the previous five. The change was motivated primarily by dwindling finances, as Lakeland hopes to save $1 million per year but shuttering the buildings and reducing staff appropriately.

Merkel said a decreasing student population and diminished state support for public schools has forced Lakeland to downsize.

“What does it mean to be a Laker?” Merkel asked in her email. “What makes us proud? What makes us unique? These are all questions you can answer for us. These answers can help us move forward in a united front.”

The survey asks respondents to describe what it means to be a Laker? In addition, the school system wanted to know what culture people believe exists at the school system, and how they would describe that culture in a single word.

The survey also asks community members to make suggestions about what they do to enhance the school system, as well as what they wish would go away at Lakeland Schools.

Corporation staff is packing up school supplies at both shuttered elementary schools. Later this summer, those materials will be moved to either the new K-2 elementary school that being set up at the former Parkside Elementary School building in LaGrange, or to the new 3-6 intermediate elementary school now being set up in the former Lakeland Middle School building. Lakeland also is transitioning its former high school into a new Junior/Senior High School for students grades 7-12.

Merkel said because of recent staff retirements and staff resignations, only one professional position had to be eliminated from the school’s payroll, an elementary level teaching position.

The short survey is anonymous and can be found at Hard copies of the survey can be found at the Twin Six in Wolcottville, Iannerelli’s and The Gathering Place restaurants in Howe, and the LaGrange County Public Library and the LaGrange County Chamber of Commerce office in LaGrange.

Residents have until June 28 to complete a survey.

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