Shakopee Public Schools

Shakopee School Board members continued the discussion to open Pearson Elementary as an early childcare facility at its Feb. 10 meeting, replacing Central Family Center, where the early childcare programs currently operate.

The discussion came after the Shakopee Community Facilities Task Force presented at a December school board meeting and flagged Central Family Center as a building that needed attention.

School board member Angela Tucker said at the December meeting that she has a son who attended Central Family Center and never felt it was safe, due to its narrow stairways that made it difficult for parents with strollers and heavy car seats, and a parking lot children could easily run into if someone left the gate open.

Pearson Elementary was permanently closed in January 2018 to help alleviate budget pressure as the district faced a deficit.

The task force pointed out at its December presentation that the Central Family Center building is 3 1/2 floors and there are levels that can’t accommodate classrooms with certain age groups. It also discovered insufficient parking and room sizes that were smaller than typical preschool rooms. The vacant Pearson Elementary School is one level and would alleviate that issue.

Shakopee Superintendent Mike Redmond said the initial costs to reopening Pearson Elementary School would be in the ballpark of $177,000 to replace the playground and pay for moving costs, signage, plumbing and other initial costs.

The cost to mothball Central Family Center would be around the same amount the district currently pays to mothball Pearson.

Pearson Elementary is also in need of office security, which would cost the district about $75,000, but Redmond said Central Family Center is also due for the same project.

Redmond said if the schools were to swap, it would be in the district’s best interest to keep the Central Family Center building as a storage facility so it can retain some of its Long Term Facilities Maintenance revenue. If the building were to fall off the books completely, the district would lose about $270,000 in revenue per year.

A formal proposal will be brought forward to board members Feb. 24. If the school board decides to go through with the swap, Pearson could be up and running as an early childcare center as soon as this fall.

Maddie DeBilzan graduated with a journalism degree from Bethel University. She’s interned at Salon Media and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Outside of work, she sifts through Goodwill clothing racks, listens to Ben Rector's music and goes on long runs.

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