Board will keep Sioux Trail for lease, possible school use
School Board members have clarified their intentions for District 191’s two vacant elementary school buildings.
Sioux Trail, on the east side of the district in Burnsville, will be offered for lease but kept in case enrollment begins to grow.
Marion W. Savage Elementary, on the west side in downtown Savage, will be offered for lease or sale, the latter of which would clear land for downtown redevelopment.
Burnsville-Eagan-Savage board members agreed at a March 9 workshop to amend a resolution stating their intentions for surplus properties no longer serving their original purpose.
The current resolution lists the elementary buildings for lease only, after their use as child care sites during the COVID-19 pandemic. The child care language will be deleted.
The resolution will continue to reflect the board’s intention to sell up to 4 acres of outlots at Diamondhead Education Center in Burnsville.
It also calls for the possible sale of Metcalf Middle School in Eagan — where three developers have floated plans for a 536-unit housing development with 318 apartments, 152 townhomes and 66 senior co-op units.
River Ridge Education Center, which formerly housed district offices and the BEST transition program for young adults, has been sold and will be dropped from the resolution.
The original resolution dates back to October 2020, after the district closed Metcalf, Sioux Trail and M.W. Savage because of declining enrollment and inefficiency.
Signs of possible enrollment stabilization as well as new housing construction suggest Sioux Trail may be needed in the future, said Board Member Abigail Alt.
“We know it’s going to take time, probably 10 years, for us to get back to where we were, and there’s other development happening on that side of the city that could impact the need for Sioux Trail,” she said. “Including Metcalf.”
The district had 7,343 students in kindergarten through 12th grade as of Oct. 1, according to its annual fall enrollment report. The loss of only 32 K-12 students from the previous year is a departure from recent years, when losses numbered in the hundreds.
Officials are “cautiously optimistic about where we’re going with enrollment,” Alt said.
In Savage, downtown redevelopment is envisioned alongside major changes planned for Highway 13 by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, officials said.
City officials, eying the school site for possible development, have asked the district its plans, said Superintendent Theresa Battle.
“Developers who express an interest, we tell them the current resolution doesn’t have it for sale,” she said. “So there’s no discussion if they do contact us. We have received inquires, and we’ve said at this time the current board resolution is only for lease.”
If enrollment does grow, reopening a former school may not be the best option for handling it, suggested Stacey Sovine, executive director of administrative services.
“Part of the reason why we closed schools is because they were small and inefficient and had high overhead costs,” he said. “So moving forward, even if enrollment increases, I don’t know if this board or future boards are interested in putting themselves back into that position. There are other options, other ways of addressing this that are operationally less expensive, with one-time costs.”
Changing boundaries to keep open schools operating near capacity is also key, he said.
Post a comment as anonymous
Watch this discussion.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.