North High will have a freshman class in fall

  • Article by: COREY MITCHELL , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 9, 2011 - 10:59 PM

"We are definitely moving in a positive direction," Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson said.

Minneapolis Schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson has again reversed course on the fate of North High School.

Less than a week after deciding the school wouldn't have freshmen in the fall, Johnson will recommend that the school board allow 52 students to enroll as the class of 2015.

The about-face is the second Johnson has made since announcing plans last fall to close the school because of low enrollment and poor academic performance.

Facing community pressure over plans to shutter another north Minneapolis school, the first-year superintendent backed off the initial recommendation. Johnson's current plans call for phasing out the current North High in 2014 and opening a new North High in fall 2012, meaning the schools would co-exist.

The Institute for Student Achievement, a New York-based company that specializes in boosting enrollment and graduation rates at moribund schools, will help manage the new North and support current students and the incoming freshmen.

Superintendents must be flexible, but refusing to stand firm can cause residents and school board members to challenge every decision, said Charlie Kyte, executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators.

"Superintendents work in very political, and often fluid, situations. The conditions and facts change," said Kyte, a former Twin Cities-area superintendent. But "you want to make your decisions and stand by them. You're encouraging people to apply more pressure in hopes that you'll buckle."

North High supporters failed to meet the 125-student recruiting goal that Johnson set last fall to keep a 2011-12 freshman class, but she backed off the requirement Monday.

"Much has changed since my initial recommendation," Johnson wrote in a statement.

"I made this decision because I believe that the trajectory of North High is about to change drastically. We are definitely moving in a positive direction."

School officials expect about 250 students will attend North in the fall. School board members will vote on Johnson's recommendation during their 6 p.m. Tuesday meeting at district headquarters, 807 Broadway NE.

Corey Mitchell • 612-673-4491

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