Competition has turned into cooperation between Minneapolis district and charter schools when it comes to seeking potential students.

For the first time, Minneapolis Public Schools and about 30 charter schools based in the city will cooperate on a school choice fair at which parents of students can shop for schools.  The Jan. 12 fair will take place at the Minneapolis Convention Center and is aimed at parents of students entering pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. School request forms are due at the district by Feb. 19.

The cooperative effort between district and charter schools is a far cry from some past years.  At one point, the district held its annual school fair in a downtown hotel, and the charters scheduled their event for the same day. When the district insisted that the hotel not book charters for the same day, charter schools moved to a neighboring hotel.  But now the district authorizes charter schools and has working relationships with others.

The fair will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free child care will be available for children aged three to five, and there will be free parking at the ramp at S. 11th Street and Marquette Avenue.

Free shuttle buses also will be available from 10 locations. The buses will run every 45 minutes to the fair from 8:45 a.m. to noon and leave the fair every 45 minutes from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The first buses will leave five minutes apart in this order: Bus 1:  Lucy Craft Laney School at Cleveland Park, 3333 Penn Av. N. (34th Street side); Davis Center, 1250 Broadway (Girard Avenue side); Bethune Community School, 919 Emerson Av. N; and Logan Recreation Center, 690 13th Av. NE.  Bus 2: Phillips Community Center, 2323 11th Av. S. (13th Avenue. Side); Little Earth housing development, 2495 18th Av. S. (east side near bridge); and Cedar Square, 1600 S. 6th St.(4th Street side).  Bus 3: Green Central Park Community School, 3416 4th St; Lyndale Elementary School, 312 W. 34th St.; and Whittier International School, 312 W. 26th St. (27th Street side)