Six Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District buildings could be leased, re-purposed or sold as officials look to cut expenses with an overhaul of their facilities.
A financial analysis expected in April will mark the next chapter of the facilities conversation, which began last summer.
In December, following a consultant’s recommendation, the Board of Education voted close three schools at the end of the current school year.
Now, deciding what to do with each building creates a domino-effect of implications on others, so officials will need to make big picture decisions before deciding the fate of each school.
One of the overarching questions is whether the district would re-open Metcalf Middle School if enrollment surged in the future. Retrofitting Metcalf to serve a different purpose now, then eventually flipping it back wouldn’t be cheap. Estimates place the initial retrofit project around $2 million.
At a Feb. 20 work session, Stephanie White, director of student support services, asked board members whether they see Burnsville-Eagan-Savage as a “two-middle-school district.”
She said Eagle Ridge Middle School was designed for an expansion, and there’s also enough land for Nicollet Middle School’s footprint to grow.
Board Chairwoman Abigail Alt said Metcalf and the Diamondhead Education Center should both be considered for redevelopment. Reopening Metcalf would force the district through another season of uncertainty, attendance boundary changes and neighborhood separation, she added.
Officials have previously discussed selling Diamondhead and relocating its programs, staff and services to Metcalf.
“It’s our job today to think about how our decisions are going to set us up for stability and investing in our programs, and I, quite frankly, am concerned about those moving and retrofitting costs,” Alt said.
The 140,000-square-foot Diamondhead center houses administrators’ offices and around 125 employees. It’s also home to a variety of education programs such as Community Education, adult English learning and early childhood programs.
Director DeeDee Currier hasn’t wavered in her opposition to selling Diamondhead.
“It’s absolutely gorgeous community asset,” she said, calling its multipurpose function “a dream come true” for the community and district.
The River Ridge Education Center and Cedar School buildings are also being studied for possible changes.
River Ridge holds the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage Transition Program for adults ages 18-21.
The Cedar School in Eagan — a stone’s throw away from Metcalf — is home to the Burnsville Alternative High School.
Half of the building is leased by Intermediate School District 917, but 917 officials have recently expressed interest in eventually taking over the entire space, which creates an opportunity for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District to get more lease revenue.
The closing M.W. Savage and Sioux Trail elementary schools, Metcalf and Diamondhead are all possible locations to relocate the alternative high school.