BURNSVILLE, Minn. — The Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School Board cites continued declining enrollment and a deep budget deficit in its decision to close three schools at the end of the academic year.
The board voted Thursday to close Marion W. Savage Elementary School, Sioux Trail Elementary School and Metcalf Middle School, a decision that came after several public hearings and emotional pleas from parents to keep them open.
“We must right-size our budget to match our enrollment,” Superintendent Theresa Battle said before the votes. “I recognize these changes will cause strong emotions including sadness and even anger. Regardless of what school students attend, they will have teachers and staff who care for them.”
About 1,200 students are impacted and will be moved to new schools next year.
"I'm not upset that they're closing schools. We understand that they have a budget that they need to take care of, but what hurts us is that closing Metcalf disproportionately affects our end of the district," said Beck Josephs, whose daughter is in 6th grade at Metcalf.
The district says they chose the three schools because they're older, had the smallest capacity, and are in locations where students are least likely to leave for other districts.
The closures are expected to save them $2 million every year. The district currently has a projected deficit of $5.5 million, which will be reduced by a $1.6 million referendum recently passed, along with the school closures.
The district says the closures will allow them to spend their money more efficiently.
They're in the process of re-drawing attendance boundaries. Those options will be presented in January with time for public input. The School Board is expected to take them up in February.
The district says they don't plan to sell any of the three buildings. They say they might lease them out to other programs, or use them as schools again, if enrollment increases.