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School reopening may start a shuffle in Minneapolis

  • Article by: COREY MITCHELL
  • Star Tribune
  • October 7, 2011 - 7:02 PM

Minneapolis public schools leaders continue to adjust their plans for rising enrollment, now proposing to reopen a third closed elementary school in northeast or southeast.

Reopening Tuttle or Webster would allow the district to maintain Sheridan Arts Magnet School, at 1201 University Av. NE, as a K-8 building, one of three proposals for the site.

The district would have to relocate two contract alternative schools, Tatanka Academy and Heritage Science & Technology, to reopen Tuttle at 1042 18th Av. SE. The district houses administrative offices at Webster, 425 5th St. NE., that could relocate to the new district headquarters scheduled to open in fall 2012.

Parents heard about the alternative proposal for Sheridan during the first week of community meetings on the district's "Planning for Changing Enrollment" recommendation, which also includes reopening Howe and Folwell in south Minneapolis. Leading up to the school board's review of the proposal on Nov. 1, the district will host more meetings that could result in more changes.

"We have to be nimble, as nimble as a bureaucracy can be," said Courtney Cushing Kiernat, the district's enrollment project leader.

The other Sheridan proposals suggest making it a K-5 school or keeping it intact by adjusting attendance boundaries to limit the number of students bused in from north Minneapolis.

Two years ago, Minneapolis school leaders were shuttering buildings and altering attendance boundaries in anticipation of losing students. With planning headed in the opposite direction, some parents questioned the projections.

"I'm just not confident that all these assumptions are right," parent Troy Parker said during Sheridan's enrollment meeting. "The district doesn't have a good history of planning for the future."

The shift at Sheridan wasn't the only change proposed this week. Jefferson Community School staff laid out a plan to keep the school a K-8. The district proposal calls for shrinking the school to K-5 with students transitioning to Anthony Middle School.

On Wednesday, more than 100 parents attended a meeting to question plans for a new middle school at the Ramsey school site, 1 W. 49th St., for Burroughs and Lyndale elementary schools. The school would open next fall with roughly 170 sixth-grade students. The district would add a grade in 2013 and again in 2014.

Parents expressed concern that such a small school would limit options for athletics and classes, especially those in the fine arts. Burroughs and Lyndale students currently transition to Anthony Middle, but crowding has created the need for another option in the city's southwest corner, district officials said.

Corey Mitchell • 612-673-4491

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