Burnsville-Eagan-Savage District officials will decide on possible school closures before moving on to the future of the Diamondhead Education Center, administrators said this week.
A proposal to close or not close schools in light of declining enrollment and other financial strains will likely go before the Board of Education on Nov. 14 before a final vote on the plans set for Dec. 12.
The possible sale or lease of the Diamondhead Education Center would then come back to the center of discussion in January, the district's administrative team recommended to School Board members Thursday.
A facilities review completed by a consultant this summer recommended the district sell the building and relocate programs to a vacated middle school as part of a broader cost-saving effort.
The 140,000-square-foot building houses administrators' offices and around 125 employees in total. It's also home to a variety of education programs such as Community Education, adult English learning programs and early childhood programs.
Around 6,600 residents participate in Community Education classes annually, and over 100 families enroll in preschool year-round, according to District Business Manager Lisa Rider. Burnsville Senior Center, operated in partnership between the district and city, draws around 18,000 annual visits.
However, the building will need a new roof and around $1.4 million in improvements by 2022, according to the district's long-term facilities maintenance plan.
Board member Lesley Chester said she wanted to know more about how the building's costs break down per program before making a decision.
“I’m curious if we are looking at other options, too,” she said. “Is this the one thing we are looking at because of this recommendation? What about River Ridge and Cedar School?"
Diamondhead and River Ridge Education Center operate more expensively than any of the district's schools in terms of utility costs per square foot, according to the facilities review.
Board member DeeDee Currier has spent 32 years with the district but has only seen administration and Community Education all in one place for the last four to five years.
She said the district is wide from east to west, and she's concerned about the staff time associated with spreading these programs and employees across the district again.
“There’s a very big need for very robust discussions before we make decision about our next steps,” she said.