Why does Northeast Metro 916 exist?
Intermediate school districts exist to meet the needs of local K-12 school districts who are not able to provide certain services and programming due to constraints such as time, costs and staffing. By sharing staff and resources, multiple school districts are able to collaborate and receive high-quality programs and services to serve a niche group of students.
In the 1960s, growing enrollments in elementary and secondary schools in Minnesota and a prosperous economy fueled a drive for the construction of more post-secondary institutions to accommodate the increasing numbers of high school graduates seeking further education. Initial discussions began through the efforts of the Roseville Chamber of Commerce, which led to a study by Roseville, Mounds View, North St. Paul-Maplewood, White Bear Lake, Mahtomedi and Stillwater school districts in 1968 to examine the possible development of a vocational technical school.
A bill was signed by the governor on May 27, 1969, enabling the six school districts to form a new intermediate district for vocational education as well as for personnel, instructional and administrative services. The district was named Special Intermediate School District 916 and the first officially organized school board named Dr. William Knaak as superintendent. In the early 1970s, South Washington County, Spring Lake Park and Centennial schools joined the district.
During the summer and fall of 1970, a bond campaign was conducted to build what would hold the 916 Area Vocational-Technical Institute (for post-secondary students) and 916 Secondary Vocational Center (for secondary students). Doors opened in the fall of 1972 with 50 programs and a total of 2,050 students. During this time, the district also began focusing on special education programming and special education vocational training.
Dr. Knaak left the district in 1981 and E. Dale Birkeland was hired as superintendent. Major facility expansion occurred through a bond referendum in 1987, which enabled the purchase of Capitol View Center and expansion of existing schools for special education on 12 sites in eight districts. At this time, the district was renamed to Northeast Metropolitan Intermediate School District 916.
In 1990, the technical center became the Technical College by legislative enactment and on July 1, 1995, the Technical College was separated from the district and became part of a new higher education conglomerate – Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU). In 1995, Dr. Don E. Lifto was hired as the new superintendent.
Overall the 1990s was a time of change with technical education, but also a time of growth and development with North Branch schools joining the district in 1991 and the addition of two large general education programs – Valley Crossing Community School (1998) and Area Learning Centers (1998).
In the early 2000s, negotiations took place with Century College who purchased the building from the district for $2.5 million. In July 2003, the district administration offices moved to Bellaire School, an empty elementary school in the White Bear Lake Area School District. Current Superintendent Connie Hayes was hired in 2006.
In the late 2000s and 2010s, increasing special education referrals brought expansion to the district’s special education programs and services and caused the district to undergo an extensive facilities study. As a result, a three-step facilities plan was developed and approved by the school board in 2012. In the 2013-14 school year, Forest Lake and Fridley schools joined the district for a total of 12 member districts. In 2015-16, St. Anthony-New Brighton and St. Francis joined to bring the total number of member districts to 14. In January 2015, it was announced that South Washington County Schools would purchase Valley Crossing and assume management in July 2016.
Northeast Metro 916 currently serves more than 5,000 students in 20 programs across 11 locations.
To read a detailed history of the first 25 years of the school district written by the first superintendent, Dr. Knaak, click here.
Last updated 12-2-15