Parents fight to save west metro elementary school from closing

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Parents in the Eastern Carver County School District have gathered 1,500 signatures on a petition to prevent the proposed closing of East Union Elementary School.

The school district must cut $10 million from its budget over the next three years, and East Union would be part of the first round of cuts the Eastern Carver School Board will vote on Feb. 24. 

John Sheridan heads up the parents' group, which has asked the school board to consider a new ballot referendum to possibly save East Union from closing at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

"We just want the school district to postpone the closing of East Union," said Sheridan.  "We told the district we will partner with them and get a new referendum on the ballot and make sure that it wins."

Sheridan said the parents' group knows East Union will have to eventually close, but a fall 2021 referendum, if it is passed, could give the district time to keep East Union open while a new elementary school is built.

"That is better than closing East Union and then redrawing the boundaries," said Sheridan.  "And, that's because our community, especially Carver Bluffs, has had our boundaries redrawn twice in the past five years."

Eastern Carver Schools issued this statement to KSTP:

"As a district, we have worked for years to increase efficiency and contain costs in a manner that minimized impacts to students and the classroom. Our focus, and guiding principle, has always been investing our resources where they can best serve students.  That focus led us to the referendum, and it has defined our budget cut process as well.  Entering into this budget reduction process, we knew we were no longer going to be able to keep cuts from affecting our students, teachers and support staff, and our community.  Our guiding principle, and our commitment, has always been to help learners achieve their personal best.  The budget reduction plan we put forward continues to advance that mission while addressing our current financial reality.  With the failure of the operating levy in the November referendum the district is faced with $10 million in cuts over the next three years, at least half of which must happen in the 2020-2021 school year.

The East Union families are very passionate about their school community and for good reason.  We have wonderful schools here.  Every school community, every child, is important to the district, and to our School Board.  The closing of East Union has been a topic of discussion for many years, including leading up the most recent referendum. The cost to operate is a significant factor as well as the amount of long-term facility maintenance required in the building.  The reality is that with the failure of the referendum, cuts must be made. Every effort is being made to minimize impacts to students and their families, but there is no way around the fact that our entire district will be impacted.  The Board is working through all of the options on the table, listening to the community, and analyzing the proposal so they can make the best possible decision for all students when they vote on February 24th."