Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 kicked off its work to realign its facilities to current needs by creating a Design Team made of school principals and parent stakeholders, as well as announcing opportunities for public input in the coming weeks.
The work comes as a result of a facilities study completed earlier in 2019 that found six elementary schools and two middle schools are under-utilized in terms of square feet-per-student. The study recommended several actions, including closing two elementary schools and one middle school.
How will the process work
District 191 has hired a neutral, third-party consultant with expertise in school facilities changes to manage the process and eventually bring recommendations to the Board of Education.
The Design Team – which first met on Sept. 23 – will help the district plan public input opportunities to ensure community members are heard. Then, the district will host several public input opportunities, which will ask community members to identify what criteria should be used to decide which schools should be closed. A recommendation based on those criteria will be brought to the Board of Education in November, with a decision expected in December.
“We want the process and decision to be impartial, which is why we looked to an experienced consultant to guide it,” said Assistant Superintendent Brian Gersich, “and we also want it to be a reflection of our community’s values and priorities.”
More details, including a complete timeline, are available online at www.isd191.org/facilities.
Why close schools
The facilities study noted that having underutilized schools results in negative consequences both in terms of finances and academic programming for students. For instance:
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.
Public input opportunities
Along with stakeholder participation on the Design Team, the district will seek public input in a number of ways, including focus groups and through an online form. Public input will center on identifying the criteria that should be used in selecting which schools to close, as well as identifying questions and concerns that will need to be addressed as the district moves forward.
The following focus groups are intended for families within particular attendance boundaries, but they will be open to the general public:
- Oct. 2, 6 p.m. - Eagle Ridge Focus Group at Eagle Ridge Middle School, 13955 Glendale Road, Savage (Eagle Ridge, Marion W. Savage, Hidden Valley, Harriet Bishop attendance areas)
- Oct. 7, 6 p.m. - Metcalf Focus Group at Metcalf Middle School, 2250 Diffley Road, Burnsville (Metcalf, Sioux Trail, William Byrne, Rahn, Sky Oaks attendance areas)
- Oct. 9, 6 p.m. - Nicollet Focus Group at Nicollet Middle School, 400 E. 134th Street, Burnsville (Nicollet, Edward Neill, Gideon Pond, Sky Oaks, Vista View attendance areas)
In addition, focus groups will be facilitated in Spanish and Somali. Both will be held at Diamondhead Education Center, 200 W. Burnsville Pkwy., Burnsville.
- October 14, 6 p.m. - Focus group facilitated in Spanish
- October 15, 6 p.m. - Focus group facilitated in Somali
For those who can’t attend one of the focus group meetings, input regarding the criteria to be used can be submitted online at www.isd191.org/facilities.
One part of an integrated plan for District 191
Realigning facilities to meet current needs is one part of an Integrated Action Plan that District 191 is taking to put the district in the best position to serve students, families and the community. Along with facilities changes, the plan also includes a levy referendum that would provide additional funding, financial management, seeking alternative funding sources like grants, continuing to improve our schools and programs, and advocating for better funding through legislative action.
Learn more about the Integrated Action Plan at www.isd191.org/action.
For the full timeline of the District 191 Facilities Realignment process, go online to www.isd191.org/facilities.