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Building our Future: Proposal to Address Facility Needs to Affect Newport Elementary

Proposed Changes Would Occur No Earlier Than 2025

 

Dear Newport Elementary Community,

South Washington County Schools (SoWashCo Schools) is planning for the future to address community growth and student needs through a 10-year long-range facility planning process. On Thursday, March 3, SoWashCo Schools will propose a districtwide plan to the school board that will directly impact Newport Elementary.

The growth in our communities requires multiple approaches to address the space needs in school buildings, including new construction, renovations, repurposing the use of buildings, moving programs and changes to some attendance boundaries. 

As a result of the planning process, the steering committee will recommend:

  • Closure of Newport Elementary to provide more efficiency in staff, resources and student opportunities in larger K-5 schools.
  • Moving the current Newport Elementary attendance boundary to nearby attendance boundaries in Woodbury Elementary, Cottage Grove Elementary and Bailey Elementary.
  • Transforming the current Newport Elementary building into a new SoWashCo Schools Early Childhood Learning Center.

Choosing to close a school and move attendance boundaries is a very tough decision and undoubtedly creates uncertainty for a school community. These changes would be implemented no earlier than fall 2025. I know this is sad and disappointing news, especially for all the families and staff who have dedicated their time and support to Newport Elementary over the years. 

If the proposal to close Newport Elementary is approved by the school board, we will create a team that includes parents, staff and community members to help provide a smooth transition. You can learn more about the proposal, view enrollment projections and review the projects slated for each building or school site at sowashco.org/facilityplanning.

What Happens Next?

  • Attend a community information session
    • In-person: 6-7:30 p.m. | March 15 | Oltman Middle School | 6625 Goodview Ave. S., Cottage Grove, MN. 55016
    • Virtual: 5:30-7 p.m. | March 17 | Zoom Link
  • SoWashCo Schools will share the 10-year facility package during school board workshops and business meetings through April 21. View the schedule. 
  • SoWashCo Schools will request board approval of the plan during the regular business meeting on Thursday, April 21.
  • SoWashCo Schools will request board approval for a bond referendum during the regular business meeting on Thursday, April 21.
    • A bond referendum gives voters the opportunity to decide if SoWashCo Schools should be authorized to raise construction funding through the sale of bonds. Bonds allow the district to borrow money that it then pays back over time. This is the only method to raise enough money for new construction and does not take away education funding. If approved by the school board, the ballot question is tentatively planned to go to voters during a special election on Aug. 9, 2022.

Over the next 10 years, more than 3,500 potential new K-12 students are expected to move into the district. If we do nothing, current projections show that 15 schools will be over capacity and we will have a deficit of nearly 2,500 K-12 seats for students by 2031. 

 To learn more about Building our Future: the Long-Range Facility Planning Process, visit sowashco.org/facilityplanning for the proposed plans for each school site, recent school board presentations, projected enrollment, timelines, community information sessions and background information. Thank you for your support as we work to address the expansive growth in our district.

Sincerely, 

Julie Nielsen Signature

Julie Nielsen
Superintendent