Board to examine school restructuring

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 1, 1999

A school board recommendation could result in the closure of Brookside Middle School to students.

Friday, October 01, 1999

A school board recommendation could result in the closure of Brookside Middle School to students.

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While the board approval wouldn’t come for several months yet, a recommendation is expected Monday when the board meets at 7 p.m. in the school district’s board room.

&uot;We have a recommendation for restructuring being presented,&uot; said Superintendent David Prescott. &uot;We have a reorganization meeting early in the meeting.&uot;

The restructuring of district facilities is necessary because the district expects to lose another 100 students to declining enrollment next year, said board member Carol Haun, adding the district is also experiencing a 100-student drop this year.

With state aid at about $5,000 per student, a 100-student drop equates to $500,000 in reduced revenues.

And, to gauge whether the enrollment decline will continue, the district hired a demographer. While final numbers won’t come until Monday, preliminary projections show the district will lose 1,000 students in the next 10 years.

Since 1993, district enrollment has also dropped by about 450 students with earlier enrollment drops reported.

&uot;That’s pretty close,&uot; Haun said of the demographer’s projections. &uot;We haven’t seen their report. In general, that’s pretty close to what we’re seeing now.&uot;

Haun said the district is open to alternatives, but the board is considering closing the Brookside building to students in the fall of 2000.

The discussed plan would then move seventh- and eighth-grades to the Southwest Junior High School, but Southwest would become a middle school; the middle school philosophy, or small schools within larger schools is preferred by the board over the junior high philosophy.

As with most Minnesota high schools, ninth-grade would then move to the new high school when it opens in the fall of 2000.

The district’s elementary schools would house sixth-grade students.

But the school board is not considering closing the Brookside building completely; the plan would move district offices and Community Education to Brookside.

&uot;The recommendation that is coming forward is the realignment of students in the different grades,&uot; Haun said. &uot;We’re looking at ways to reduce expenses by putting students in different learning environments.

&uot;There is a fairly significant difference between the amount of classroom space at Brookside and Southwest,&uot; she added. &uot;It will make a difference.&uot;

Before any recommendation is finalized, the board is also planning a series of public hearings to gain insight from the community. If a better option is determined, Haun said the board would consider it.

&uot;This is just a starting point,&uot; she said.