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District reverses proposal on Anwatin immersion site

Posted by: Steve Brandt under People and neighborhoods, Politics and government, Minneapolis Edison, Minneapolis Henry, Minneapolis North, Urban living Updated: November 20, 2013 - 10:12 AM

(Update: The middle-grades Spanish immersion program should remain at Anweatin Middle School, the district told parents of immerison students Tuesday night.

That reverses a revised recommendation that district planners made to their board just last week to shift the program to the Wilder building on the South Side from the current North Side site.  Some parents wanted a site that more accessible by bus from the South Side, where the bulk of immersion students reside. But others at Anwatin pushed back (see below).

The immerison program will bring a district-estimated 225 to 250 students to the school if a proposed expansion of the program to Sheridan school in northeast Minneapolis is approved.  That expansion would help offset a loss of some students feeding to Anwatin from Bethune, who would go to Franklin Middle School.  The district said that students from adjacent Bryn Mawr elementary would continue to feed Anwatin, along with Internaitonal Baccalaureate students from Whittier school.)  

There's been pushback from the city's northern third recently on a proposed enrollment plan recently in two areas of concern -- the proposed shift of the district middle-school Spanish immersion program out of Anwatin Middle School, and the future of North High School.

Both were topics Monday night when the district opened a series of geographic meetings with parents, this time the North Side.

District representatives hinted that a change in the immersion proposal could be unveiled Tuesday night at another parent meeting at Windom.  The district has immersion elementaries at Emerson and Windom schools, and wants to open a third that would share Sheridan.  The district last month proposed keeping the middle school program at Anwatin and making Roosevelt the pathway high school for Spanish immersion,  But it revised that this month to propose sending immersion students to the South Side's Wilder building for middle school, responding to a concern about making the program more geographically compact.

That prompted an outcry from some Anwatin parents who felt the revised program undercut their school both by shifting 150 immersion students, and by routing some elementary students that now feed Anwatin to a reopened Franklin Middle School. Parent Kimberlee Martinez brought a poster-size map to make her point that the district zone serving the north and northeast Minneapolis is short-changed on Spanish immersion. It does have the city's only French immersion district school.

The school board also got an earful last week from North High School boosters, who wanted to know when the second small academy to operate in that school is going to debut.  Several advocated for a revival of the science and math-focused Summa Tech that North used to offer in the days before the advent of STEM (science tech engineering math) programs. Area Associate Superintendent Michael Thomas reassured them that a medical, science and tech program was proposed to open at North in 2015 for up to 500 students, in cooperation with the Institute for Student Achievement, the consultant helping the district with its arts and communication academy now in its second year at North.

North advocates now have a key advocate in board member Kim Ellison, who earlier served on the community committee that several years ago recommended alternatives to a proposal then to close North.

The district was also peppered with questions about what it's doing to strengthen Olson Middle School, as a feeder for Henry High School. One plan is to reopen a prek-5 community school at Cityview that's compatible with Henry and Edison High School International Baccalaureate programs. Cityview would also house a relocated French immersion program.  

(Photo: Anwatin Middle School and Bryn Mawr elementary are tucked in an area between Interstate 394 and Bassett Creek)

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