Students in Intermediate District 917's SUN program will soon have some new digs.
By fall of 2013-2014, the program will be relocated from a strip mall in Apple Valley to Cedar School in Eagan, a building owned by the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District. BES is a member of District 917, a nine-district cooperative that serves special needs students aged 5 to 21. SUN serves kids who have "very unique special education needs" that outpace available programming in typical schools, such as cognitive impairments or significant needs in social, emotional, sensory and behavioral development.
Cedar School has been repurposed several times, said Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School Board Member DeeDee Currier. It was originally an elementary school, then served as a district office space, then used for a series of special education programs, including Vale Educational Center until its closure in 2011. Currently, the school is occupied by Burnsville Alternative High and District 917, which began negotiations for a chunk of the building in early 2012.
District 917 has committed to a 10-year lease of the space, which sat empty after Vale was disbanded. The intermediate district has also pledged to spend a substantial amount of money improving their part of the building. District 917 Superintendent John Christiansen estimated that the work will cost about $350,000. It will mainly consist of converting larger spaces into smaller rooms, which will better accommodate the small group sizes typical of SUN.
The work will occur over summer, to be completed by the start of the school year. Christiansen added that the new location will be much more convenient from the Bloomington and West St. Paul districts.