A comprehensive review of Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 facilities, programs, enrollment and finances resulted in several recommendations, including the recommendation to close two elementary schools and a middle school after the 2019-20 school year.
District 191 has experienced declining enrollment for about 15 years, losing nearly 2,000 students from its peak. While reconfiguring grade levels and adding pre-kindergarten classes to elementary schools has made use of the space at district schools, the study found that six elementary schools and two middle schools are under-utilized in terms of square feet-per-student compared to state guidelines.
“I don’t think these results come as a surprise to people who have followed the district,” said Superintendent Dr. Theresa Battle. “But it is important to start with an impartial, accurate evaluation of our situation so that we can move forward and make the best decisions for our students and community.”
In response to the study, Board members asked administration to come up with a process that will lead to them taking specific action regarding district facilities. The process is expected to be brought to the board in August.
“I know that this will be a difficult process,” Battle said. “I’m committed to being open throughout and staying true to our values as district, and I know that together, we can come out of this stronger and better able to serve the One91 community.
Some of the study's major findings include:
The district offers a wide array of programs and services, and maintains comparable class offerings to similar school districts.
The district spends more per student than the state average, and that the district has a higher than average percentage of students who receive free or reduced lunch, and a higher than average percentage of students who are English learners.
Six district elementary schools are under-utilized, using state standards of students per square foot of space.
Two district middle schools are under-utilized, using state standards of students per square foot of space.
Although included in the report, the Board has not yet acted on any of these recommendations. The process for bringing final recommendations to the board will be outlined at a future board meeting.
Recommendations included creating a task force or task forces to study and bring recommendations to:
Close two elementary schools after the 2019-20 school year
Close one middle school after the 2019-20 school year
Sell Diamondhead Education Center and relocate administration, programs and services to the closed middle school as soon as feasible.
Reconfigure elementary schools to be PreK-2 and 3-5 (pairing two schools together) in the future.
Redraw attendance boundaries to reflect the new structure.
Comprehensively market the district programs to limit or reverse enrollment decreases.