The Perpich Center for Arts Education would be abolished, and the fate of its two schools thrown into jeopardy, under legislation advanced by a state House panel Friday.
The action follows the release six weeks ago of a legislative auditor's report detailing a lack of oversight by the center's governing board and enrollment declines at its flagship high school in Golden Valley and at Crosswinds arts and science magnet school in Woodbury.
A bill proposed by Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, and Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton, would halt enrollment at the two schools after the 2017-18 school year. But it also leaves open the possibility of the schools and their operations being turned over to a school district or nonprofit.
In the case of Crosswinds, the St. Paul School District is offering to step in to save it.
Interim Superintendent John Thein, who appeared Friday before the House Education Innovation Policy Committee, is skilled in school takeovers. As the former Roseville schools chief, Thein in 2013 rescued from closure a Maplewood magnet school that then was one of two schools -- Crosswinds being the other -- run by the East Metro Integration District.
Crosswinds is just east of St. Paul's Battle Creek area and draws students from St. Paul.
"We would love to have them back in the family," Thein said.
St. Paul's interest also comes as it considers whether to proceed with plans to build a new middle school on the East Side.
The proposed legislation gives the Perpich Center board until Jan. 15 to submit proposals to the Legislature calling for one or both schools to be turned over to another entity or entities.
The Perpich Center board already has endorsed St. Paul's proposed takeover of Crosswinds.
Loon said that she was not aware of any interest yet in the arts high school.
The bill was sent to the House Education Finance Committee on a 9-6 vote, but could be revised as it moves through the legislative process.
"I am open to all ideas," Loon said.