Howe School in Minneapolis.
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Nov. 30, 2011: Mpls. will reopen 3 schools to ease crowding
- Article by: COREY MITCHELL
- Star Tribune
- November 30, 2011 - 10:55 AM
A $45 million Minneapolis public schools plan to house a projected increase in students will reopen three closed schools and shift more than 4,000 pupils.
School board members approved the final pieces of the plan Tuesday, authorizing $18 million in costs spread over eight schools.
District leaders predict that reopening, shifting and renovating schools will ease a space crunch that has packed classrooms across large swaths of the city, from northeast Minneapolis to the city's southwest corner.
Enrollment in Minneapolis is up 330 students this fall, the first increase in a decade, Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson told board members Tuesday.
District leaders predict the trend will continue for several years, the result of a recent baby boomlet and more families choosing city schools.
For years, hundreds, if not thousands, of parents deserted Minneapolis for suburban or charter schools, eventually dropping the district from the state's largest to third, behind Anoka-Hennepin and St. Paul.
School board member Hussein Samatar opposed all three portions of the plan, citing concerns about why some schools cost more to reopen than others.
Board member Rebecca Gagnon urged planners to create more space for elementary-age students in southwest Minneapolis, where the most acute classroom crowding has occurred.
Money from the district's budget and proceeds from a bond sale will cover the cost of construction and architect fees. Here's a look at the changes:
North and northeast
The district will change the grade configuration at three schools and reopen a shuttered school.
Jenny Lind Community, currently a kindergarten through fourth-grade school, will add fifth-grade students next school year. The move will allow nearby Olson Community to house sixth- through eighth-graders only, providing a traditional middle school in north Minneapolis.
Sheridan Arts Magnet, a kindergarten through eighth grade school, will drop its sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade classes next fall.
The district also plans to open an early childhood center in northeast, possibly at the former Webster school, 425 NE. 5th St., with space for at least seven early childhood special education and prekindergarten classrooms.
South and southwest
Two closed schools -- Howe and Folwell -- will reopen.
Howe, 3733 43rd Av. S., would serve third- through fifth-graders as part of a dual campus with nearby Hiawatha school, which would serve kindergarten through second grade.
The district will relocate Ramsey Fine Arts Magnet, a kindergarten through eighth- grade school, to Folwell, 3611 20th Av. S.
The Ramsey building, 1 W. 49th St., will serve as a new middle school in southwest Minneapolis, serving students from Burroughs and Lyndale schools and other attendance areas that feed to Washburn High School.
The changes approved Tuesday come on the heels of the board's decision to spend at least $27 million to expand two buildings -- $11 million at Lake Harriet Lower Campus to create space for another 125 students and $16 million at Lake Nokomis Keewaydin Campus to make room for an extra 180 students. Administrators have not yet announced details of plans to expand Pratt Community School.
The district dropped several portions of the initial plan after gathering resident input during public meetings and taking suggestions from school board members. A proposal to expand the Wellstone International High School program to include middle school students is on hold.
The district also tabled plans to have students from two kindergarten through eighth-grade schools -- Nellie Stone Johnson and Lucy Laney -- attend North High. Students who graduate from the schools now traditionally attend Patrick Henry High.
Corey Mitchell • 612-673-4491
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