Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District officials want to finalize a plan for possible school closures, grade restructuring and boundary changes in December. Community events to hear public feedback are set to begin next month.
Assistant Superintendent Brian Gersich presented new details to the Board of Education this week regarding an “aggressive” timeline to decide how facilities will factor into millions of dollars of potential budget cuts amid falling enrollment.
The board expects $5.5 million in cuts in 2020-2021, and officials called a fall levy referendum last month that would annually generate an estimated $1.7 million more for the district's general fund if voters approve it in November.
“It’s going to affect all of us,” Board Chairwoman Abigail Alt said, urging involvement from the community. “We all want this to be the best possible outcome.”
A review completed by a consultant in June found underused facilities significantly contribute to the district’s financial strain and recommended closing two elementary schools and one middle school and selling the Diamondhead Education Center at the end of next school year.
According to the timeline, families can attend focus groups held at each of the middle schools next month. Each event will invite families from the elementary schools that feed into that middle school and the families currently enrolled at the middle school.
The focus groups are scheduled as follows:
- Eagle Ridge Middle School on Oct. 2 at 6 p.m.
- Metcalf Middle School on Oct. 7 at 6 p.m.
- Nicollet Middle School on Oct. 9 at 6 p.m.
The recommended plan for closures will be presented to the school board on Nov. 14 in anticipation of a final vote on the plans set for Dec. 12.
A public hearing, required by state law, is scheduled for Dec. 4.
Eight schools operate significantly under capacity when compared to state standards, according to the review, but Gersich said any elementary and middle school could close.
“There’s no solutions yet,” he said, adding the next few months will give the most important pieces of criteria for the final decision.
Dr. Roger Worner, a consultant with over 20 years of experience and an expert on facility planning, will guide the process and guarantee the oversight of a neutral, third-party, Gersich said.