Minneapolis revamps plan for handling school enrollment bulge

  • Article by: STEVE BRANDT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 8, 2013 - 11:17 PM

After feedback, Minneapolis plan has been revised to avoid moving two programs, add a gifted school and defer an arts high school idea.

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Marcy Open School Principal Donna Andrews greeted students on the first day of classes in Minneapolis in August. The district is dropping a plan to shift the Marcy open program, a proposal that caused an uproar when it was disclosed to parents this week.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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The proposal to handle an enrollment bulge in Minneapolis schools has been revamped to avoid two school dislocations opposed by parents, add a gifted and talented elementary, and delay a decision on opening an arts high school.

The latest version reflects feedback from parents at an October round of community meetings.

The school board will discuss it Tuesday, with its decision scheduled for Dec. 10.

One key change is dropping a proposal to shift the Sheridan arts program to Cityview school, and marry it with more a technical curriculum. That was to make room for twin community and Spanish immersion programs at Sheridan. But now the plan is to have the arts and immersion programs share the school, with three arts and two immersion kindergarten sections by the 2015-2016 school year.

The district now seeks to add capacity in northeast Minneapolis by reopening Webster, once an open program but more recently used for district offices. A slightly larger downtown enrollment district, expanded by adding the North Loop area, would feed Webster instead of the current practice of sending students to southwest schools. Webster would open as a prekindergarten to second grade school, growing to fifth grade eventually, with students eventually going on to Northeast Middle School and Edison High School.

The Sheridan revision means that the district is dropping a plan to shift the Marcy open program to Sheridan, a proposal that caused an uproar when it was disclosed to parents this week. Alix Herzing, chair of Marcy’s parent council, said there’s “a general sense of relief” at the news after parents felt blindsided.

“We are committed to the least disruption to students,” said LeAnn Dow, one of the proposal’s developers at the district.

One new wrinkle would add a five-grade elementary gifted and talented program at the Wilder school on Chicago Avenue. The expansive building also would hold part of the district’s early childhood education expansion as well as a new middle school in 2015-2016 focused on science, technology, engineering, arts and math, or STEAM. It also would serve as the Spanish immersion middle school instead of Anwatin. STEAM students could continue to a similar program at Roosevelt High School.

The district got negative feedback on its proposal for an audition-based arts high school at Wilder from parents concerned that it would undercut high school arts programs. So it has deferred discussion of that, although it could decide to go ahead with the idea in 2017-2018, Dow said. It’s also deferring a proposal to create a grade nine to 16 college prep program at Tuttle school.

One change from the district’s original plan to add capacity in its southwest zone, where the enrollment bulge is biggest, would be to defer the start of a combined Washburn High School-Ramsey Middle School program by a year to 2015.

The district also proposes expanding its current 40-student pilot school for helping immigrant students adjust to American education. The new plans would create two classrooms for that at Sullivan and four at Andersen. The program now helps Somali students.

 

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438

Twitter: @brandtstrib

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