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Facilities/Boundary Changes Q&A

Questions & Answers about the Facilities Realignment Process and Attendance Boundary Changes in District 191

Will closing schools mean classes will be more crowded?

No. District 191 will continue to set teacher-to-student ratios based on the annual budget process. Teachers at closed schools will be reassigned to other schools, just like students will be.

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How will having fewer schools affect class size?

The average class sizes across District 191 should remain fairly constant. However, there should be more balanced class sizes across the district and fewer “hot spots” with very large or very small classes. 

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Will closing sites make more families choose to leave District 191?

By keeping all of our schools open, District 191 is spending more money on utilities, staff and maintenance than is needed. When schools close, that money can be used to improve programs and services for students. Right now, our facilities are not efficient and that takes away from programming.  

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How will closing schools affect programming?

Having fewer schools with more students at each may provide several benefits for students. 

At the elementary level, because some schools have only two sections - meaning two 1st grade classes, two kindergarten classes, etc. - it’s difficult to have consistent class sizes, and some end up being larger than we would like. By consolidating elementary schools, we’ll be able to be more consistent in class sizes across the district.

At the middle school level, having two larger middle schools will make it easier to offer a more robust middle school model that lets teachers work more as teams to meet students’ needs.

At the very least, closing schools will help the district operate more efficiently, allowing more programming and services to be maintained. 

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How much money does District 191 expect to save by closing schools?

More precise estimates won’t be known until after the schools are selected, but the district anticipates reducing costs by between $2 million and $3 million. 

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How will attendance boundaries be redrawn?

With the possibility of closing two elementary schools and one middle school, new attendance boundaries will be needed. District 191 hasn't adjusted attendance boundaries for more than 20 years, despite significant changes to population and enrollment.

The process will include meaningful community engagement. A Design Team of employees and community members will help develop potential options after analyzing data about where current students live, student demographics, potential future residential development, transportation and other relevant information. 

Public/stakeholder input will be considered in refining, adjusting and/or choosing among options, and the Board of Education will be responsible for making the final decision on adopting new attendance boundaries. 

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What will happen to the district’s magnet schools?

As District 191 proceeds with the Facilities Realignment Process, it will also be completing a review of the magnet programs that are currently offered, which include Harriet Bishop (Gifted & Talented), William Byrne (STEM) and Rahn (Arts & Technology). 

Because the recommendations for school closings will affect how District 191 elementary schools are organized, and because of the opportunity the process offers to review and improve all of our elementary schools, any typical events related to magnet schools - such as information nights and application deadlines - are currently delayed. 

More information regarding magnet programs will be available after the School Board has taken action on closing schools, attendance boundary changes and other related issues.

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Is the District selling Diamondhead Education Center?

Right now, the District is only gathering information related to the possibility of selling Diamondhead Education Center. With the focus being put toward closing schools and related changes, it is not being pursued at this time. Tentatively, the Board plans to continue the conversation about Diamondhead in January. 

Background: An external consultant recommended that District 191 sell Diamondhead Education Center as part of a study conducted in the spring of 2019. Diamondhead currently houses the Burnsville Senior Center, Community Education, administrative offices, early childhood classes, early childhood special education and several meeting and classrooms for professional development and community use.  

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What will happen to the school buildings that are closed?
 
No specific plans have been made for any school building that might be closed in 2020-21. At this time, the district does not plan to sell or demolish the buildings, as school space may be needed in the future if enrollment grows. 
 
 
I participated in a school community meeting after the recommendation was announced. What will happen to the cards that were turned in and posters that were created?
 
The district will provide answers to common questions through this Question and Answer page, as well as in information distributed to parents via email as the process continues forward. Comments and questions will also be shared with Board members.
 
When is the public hearing on the recommended school closures?
 
The District 191 Board of Education will hold a public hearing on Dec. 4, 2019 at 6:30 p.m. at Diamondhead Education Center.
 
 
How can I participate in the public hearing?
 

People who wish to speak at the meeting will be asked to sign up in advance. People will be able to sign up to speak between 4:30 and 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4 at Diamondhead (Enter Door #1 on the upper level). Speakers will be given a number based on when they sign up, and during the meeting, they will be called up to speak in that order. 

To try to ensure everyone who wishes to speak has an opportunity, speakers will be limited to no more than 3 minutes. Speakers who need an interpreter will be provided up to 5 minutes, but they will need to bring their own interpreter.

To make sure that participants’ thoughts and concerns are received in their entirety by the board, speakers are invited to prepare a written statement that summarizes your thoughts. Those statements may be submitted to the board if a speaker runs over their allotted time.

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Who conducted the facilities study and maybe the recommendation on which schools to close?
 
The comprehensive facilities study completed in the spring of 2019 was conducted by Dr. Roger Worner and Dr. Kay Worner, both of whom have experience as superintendents of Minnesota school districts and have conducted facilities studies for more than 400 school districts. Roger Worner also facilitated the public engagement process and developed the recommendations that were presented to the Board on Nov. 14.
 
 
What's the tentative timeline for attendance boundary changes?
 
  • November-December: Design Team will begin analyzing data, including where current students live, student demographics, potential future developments that might affect enrollment, transportation consideration, etc.

  • December: If Board of Education takes action to close schools, then the Design Team will develop options for new attendance boundaries

  • January: Stakeholder input opportunities

  • Jan. 23: Present recommendation to Board of Education

  • February: Board takes action to adopt new Attendance Boundaries

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How will attendance variances (students who attend schools other than their asisgned school) be handled after attendance boundaries change?
 
No decision has been made about how to process requests for students to attend a school other than the one they are assigned based on where they live. A recommendation on those current variances, as well as future variance requests, will be brought to the Board as part of the attendance boundary change process.
 
 
If I enroll my child in kindergarten now, what school will they be assigned to attend?
 
Your child will temporarily assigned to a school based on the current attendance boundaries in our system. You will be notified of your child's final school of attendance once new attendance boundaries are adopted.
 
 
If my student is assigned to a new school, will they still receive transportation to their new school?

The District provides transportation to and from school for elementary students who live more than one mile from their school and secondary (middle and high school) students who live more than 1.5 miles from their school. In addition, students who would have to cross a hazardous road or other feature in order to walk to school are also provided busing. The District 191 transportation policy (Policy #707) is available online. Exact walking zones will be established after new attendance boundaries are set.