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Published June 21, 2024

S.E. Como residents look for use of Tuttle

The Tuttle School building closed last April because of low enrollment.

While thousands of students go in and out of University buildings day after day, the dormant Tuttle School in the Southeast Como neighborhood hasn’t had children inside since spring 2007.

Steven Liss, chief of operations for the Minneapolis Public Schools board, met with Southeast Como residents three times last week to discuss the reuse of the Tuttle School building, which has been closed since April.

The Minneapolis Public Schools board voted to close Tuttle School because of low enrollment and sustainability, Liss said.

Liss said the Minneapolis Public Schools District would allow a charter school to use the facility, but it would have to best fit the interests of the community.

“We have to make sure that any arrangement really advances the interests of the kids in Minneapolis and the communities in Minneapolis,” he said.

Residents of the neighborhood and school board members are considering the expansion of the University Child Care Center, which already has a facility in the neighborhood. The neighborhood is also considering using the space to create a community center.

The University Child Care Center provides childcare for University staff and students and has a long waiting list, said James De Sota, the Southeast Como Improvement Association neighborhood coordinator.

De Sota said the facility is considered one of the top child-care facilities in the state.

Whatever the case, De Sota said the neighborhood would really like to see a school put back in the old Tuttle building.

Fifty-year Southeast Como resident Joan Menken said the University community fosters education not only for students, but also for children.

“I think there’s no doubt that people want to see children there,” Menken said, in reference to the Tuttle building.

Menken said ultimately she would like to see a kindergarten through eighth grade school brought back to the community.

Despite input from the community, Marilyn Burns, a resident of the neighborhood since 2000 and University alumna, said the decision is up to the school board.

“There’s no guarantee on any of this,” she said.

Burns said schools are vital to a community’s growth.

“When you remove schools from a neighborhood, it just pulls the bottom out of the neighborhood in terms of getting people to come back in and buy homes and live here,” Burns said.

By restoring a school, Burns said the community will reach stability between University students and families, which makes for a safer environment.

For now, the school board formed a community asset group made up of Southeast Como residents to come up with a proposal for the building’s best use. Liss said the school board will vote on the proposal in late spring.

“We want to come up with a use that works for the neighborhood, but that also has to work economically for the school district,” Liss said.

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