An Eden Prairie school is about to become the second private school in the metro area and sixth statewide with a residence hall.
After 27 years of growth, the International School of Minnesota recently got city approval to open a three-story residence hall to house 35 students, joining five boarding schools among the state's nearly 500 non-public schools.
The dormitory is needed, the school says, to house students who are drawn to the campus from across Minnesota and around the globe.
"As an international school, we do attract a lot of interest from overseas," said George Saad, vice president of SABIS, a global education management group that has 15 schools in 15 countries. Eden Prairie's campus was its first in the United States. "This will help us still get students from overseas even if their families don't live in Minnesota. We want to offer that unique setting to really highlight what makes us different than other schools."
The Eden Prairie City Council last month gave final approval to the school's plans for a three-story, 20,000-square-foot residence hall. Saad said construction could begin as soon as January, with the residence hall opening by August for the school year.
The school -- located on a 58-acre site at 6385 Beach Road, off Hwy. 62 and Interstate 494 -- also has contingency plans for a future 16,000-square-foot office building and three future residence hall additions ranging from about 11,000 to 16,000 square feet to house approximately 100 students. Those projects would need additional city approval.
Saad said they'll see what kind of demand the first residence hall has before deciding whether to seek approval for the additional projects. "There's a great demand for it locally," he said.
It's the latest addition to the school that's been incrementally expanding since opening in Eden Prairie in 1987, two years after starting in the Twin Cities in a temporary location. Just in the past few years, Saad said, the school has added a track-and-field area and a performing arts center.
"We do see a growth path for the school," he said.
Since it opened, the school has grown from about 85 students to today's 500 preschool through 12th-grade students who come from all over the Twin Cities and beyond. About 30 percent of the school's families are international.
Eden Prairie Mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens commended the school for staying in the community for more than two decades. "It's continued to grow and grow and grow," she said. "They have, fortunately, quite a bit of land. It's a perfect location for it."
According to the state Department of Education, the other five non-public boarding schools in Minnesota include Cotter Schools in Winona, Hillcrest Lutheran Academy in Fergus Falls, St. Croix Lutheran Schools in West St. Paul, Saint John's Preparatory School in Collegeville and Shattuck St. Mary's School in Faribault.
The only public K-12 school in the state with a residence hall is the Arts High School at the Perpich Center in Golden Valley, which draws about 300 juniors and seniors from across the state for the tuition-free arts education. The more than 100 students who stay in the dorm pay about $3,600 to live there.
In Eden Prairie, the International School of Minnesota centers on the SABIS curriculum, developed in Lebanon more than a century ago and built around sequential study goals that students and teachers must meet each week before moving on to the next concept. Tuition ranges from about $11,000 to $17,000 per student each year, according to the school. Students learn a rigorous college-prep curriculum, starting with French or Spanish in preschool.
Now, the latest addition shows the school is in Eden Prairie to stay.
"We've grown significantly," Saad said. "We've been really investing in this campus."
Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141; Twitter: @kellystrib