The Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school board has approved a proposal to buy land for a future elementary school in Rosemount — to meet the projected enrollment growth in the south metro district.

At a recent meeting, the District 196 school board authorized the administration to sign a letter of intent to purchase land, according to a news release from the district. The 34.4-acre piece of land is located on the southwest corner of Bonaire Path and Akron Avenue, east of Hwy. 3 and north of County Road 42.

“The district is purchasing this land so that the board has an opportunity to develop a school in the future considering the growing demand,” said Jeff Solomon, the district’s director of finance and operations. The site is located directly north of UMore Park and is owned by Rosemount Farms Joint Ownership Group.

The need for a new school stems from the district’s anticipation for additional capacity within the next five years to accommodate new residential development projected for its southern and eastern areas. The bulk of this new development is expected to take place in Lakeville and Rosemount, including the 4,800-acre UMore Park property that the University of Minnesota has started to sell to developers, the news release said.

With 19 elementary schools currently, the enrollment in District 196 grew by 400 students annually in the past three years to almost 29,000 students, according to Solomon. In February, the board had authorized the administration to begin looking for a site for a new school in Rosemount. The site chosen is one of four that were considered.

Last fall, demographic consultant Hazel Reinhardt had informed the board that the district enrollment could grow by another 15 percent over the next 10 years to nearly 34,000 students total.

“The findings were based on my enrollment projections for 10 years in which I look at the rate at which the migration occurs at each grade level. Then, I check the projected housing growth and the number of students that we expect in each unit,” said Reinhardt, a former state demographer. Based on her survey and discussions with city planners, the district could have as many as 1,300 new, single-family detached homes in the next three years, she said.

Funding for the land deal will come from the $6 million savings from the bond referendum approved by district voters in November 2015.

“Almost all projects in the $130 million bond have been bid or are already completed. The remaining bond funds, approximately $6 million, were achieved through careful budgeting on projects that have been completed and bond investment earnings,” Solomon said.

In February, the board authorized the administration to use up to $4 million to purchase land for a possible school site and any remaining funds to add capacity at existing elementary schools. The schools for those projects have not yet been identified.