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Survey will measure public support for District 196 facilities needs

In mid-September, representatives of the Morris Leatherman Company, working on behalf of the district, will be calling randomly selected District 196 residents to provide information about the district’s current and future facilities needs and measure their support for possible solutions and the tax impact of meeting those needs.

The scientific community survey will be conducted the last two weeks of September and will include a minimum of 400 responses from randomly selected District 196 residents who are representative of the district’s key demographics.

Results of the survey will help guide recommendations of the district Facilities and Equipment Steering Committee, which has been meeting since June 2021. School principals and district administrators serving on the committee have met nearly 20 times in the last 15 months, reviewing information, and have begun drafting a Facilities Master Plan proposal that will address needs in the following three areas: 1) planning for projected growth; 2) providing a consistent experience across the district, and 3) supporting the district’s “triple-A” philosophy of academics, arts and athletics.

Enrollment projections prepared by former state demographer Hazel Reinhardt in 2020 and updated again earlier this year show that District 196 is expected to grow by 2,500 to 3,000 students by 2030, with most of the new residential development happening in the southeastern part of the district in Rosemount. Most schools in the district are already at or near capacity, and additional space will be needed at all levels to accommodate the projected growth.

To maximize use of existing space and address overcrowding, last year the board approved attendance-area changes that will provide near-term relief for Rosemount Middle School and Rosemount High School and better balance enrollments at the district’s six middle schools and four comprehensive high schools.

In June, members of the committee and representatives of Wold Architects updated the School Board on what they had learned about future development in meetings with the city of Rosemount. Scott McQueen of Wold said key takeaways are that land will be slow to develop for new housing after the current residential boom, that the development focus is moving to non-residential uses, and that enrollment growth in the district is likely to slow after the next 10 years.

After results of the survey are presented in early October, the committee will finalize its recommendation and present it to Superintendent Mary Kreger and cabinet directors, who will determine what is recommended to the board. Options the committee is considering to address growth include as many as two new elementary schools to ease overcrowding and provide space for additional preschool; a new, slightly larger Rosemount Middle School and repurposing the current school for non-student uses; finishing upgrades throughout Rosemount High School that were started with the last successful bond referendum in 2015, and possible additions to Rosemount High, Scott Highlands Middle School and Eastview High School, if needed.