Contact Me

Vern Capelle
320-573-2174 ext. 105

Superintendent's Admin. Asst.

Sherry Soltis
320-573-2175 ext. 103

Hello, and Welcome to Upsala Area Schools

My name is Vern Capelle, and I am honored to serve the Upsala Area Schools – ISD 487 as the Superintendent, and in turn serve the communities of Upsala, Bowlus, Grey Eagle, and more. I am endlessly proud of our Districts' academic growth and our community's continuous, outstanding support. At UAS we operate with a passionate, skilled staff dedicated to unlocking the full-potential of each of our students.

Upsala Area Schools has a long, rich history that dates back to 1920, when four separate elementary schools consolidated under one new brick building. Today we continue to seek out technology advancements, programming enhancements, and innovative teaching techniques to not only honor our original graduates, but also to inspire and mold our future generations.

Background Credentials

  • (Graduate) Educational Specialist – Educational Leadership –– Concordia University; St. Paul

  • (Graduate) Master of Arts – Educational Leadership –– Concordia University; St. Paul

  • (Undergraduate) Bachelor of Science – Biology/Secondary Education –– University of Wisconsin; River Falls

From the Superintendent's Desk

“Don’t you know what that is? It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”

Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, Detective

As I write this newsletter, I am looking out at our snow and ice-free parking lot on a day that we may experience temperatures near 50 degrees…in February! To say that this has been a mild winter is an understatement. Regardless, I will gladly accept it and look forward to a busy Spring season here at UAS.

Spring brings a number of rituals to every school year that are significant. This year is no exception as we will be busy with our Capital Improvements Project, setting our budget for the next fiscal year and advocating for rural schools during this year's legislative session. Here is a quick update on what will be happening.

Capital Improvements Project

We are still in the design and development phase of the project. Contractors have been hired and materials for the project are being ordered. The demolition and construction phases of the project will begin as soon as the school year concludes and progress throughout the summer months. We are still on target to have the project completed by the time school begins next September as long as we do not encounter any significant delays along the way. Look for a project update coming later this Spring that will highlight the project in more detail as soon as all design details have been finalized.

District Budget and Finance Update

At this point, I am sure you have heard the news regarding  the District’s Statutory Operating Debt (SOD) status. After a series of deficit budgets, we have exhausted our reserve balance and were designated to be in SOD according to the statutory guidelines. So what does this mean for UAS? We will be working closely with MDE to examine our budget in order to remove this status as soon as possible. We have submitted a plan to MDE to do this with minimal impact to our programming and operations, which will allow us to reduce any adverse impacts to students. There were a number of factors that contributed to the deficit spending, primary among these were a significant enrollment decrease during and after the pandemic years, as well as significant increases in expenditures in the areas of transportation, maintenance/operations, and special education. In addition, the federal grant funds we received during the COVID pandemic have been exhausted. All of these factors we had anticipated and planned for, however, these factors were significantly greater during the 2022-2023 school year. 

The increases in funding we received from the State this year will help us on the path to recovery, however, the majority of this new funding will be directed towards the new mandates of the 2023 legislature. With this in mind, we will be developing our budget for fiscal year 2025 with our primary focus on providing the best possible education for our students and providing them with the learning and experiences that will prepare them for whatever future they choose to pursue.

2024 Legislative Session

Another ritual of Spring in the meeting of the Minnesota Legislature. The 94th Continuing Regular Session of the Minnesota Legislature began on February 12th and will conclude on May 20th. The regular session of 2023 brought about significant legislative changes, many of which will have direct impacts to school districts, in particular rural districts, going forward. Earned Safe and Sick Time, Paid Family and Medical Leave, universal meals, unemployment insurance, the READ act are just some of the mandates that schools will have to navigate this year and in the near future. In March, I will join with many of my colleagues from Region 5 to visit with our legislators at the Capital to impress upon them the significance that this legislation will have on rural school districts. We are still unsure what consequences may come from last year's legislation, which makes it very difficult to plan for. Stay tuned for updates on this legislative session and the potential impacts to UAS that may occur.

One of the most important Spring rituals that occurs at UAS is the commencement of our graduating seniors. On May 24th, our seniors will graduate from UAS and we will wish them the best as they embark on the newest stage in their journey through life. A central component of our mission here at UAS is to make sure that each of our graduating seniors is prepared for whatever future path they have selected. This may involve attending a post-secondary institution to receive additional education and/or training in preparation for a desired career, or transitioning directly into the workforce. Whatever option our students choose, we have worked diligently to prepare them for what they will experience. As they go forward on their journeys, we are confident that the education they have received from UAS has prepared them for success and we look forward to their individual accomplishments with gratitude and pride. If you have any questions, or would like more information regarding our programs, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Cardinal Pride!!

Vern Capelle
Superintendent of Schools