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The FAIR school in Crystal when it opened in 2000.

Tom Sweeney, Star Tribune

Minneapolis votes to stay in integration district

  • Article by: STEVE BRANDT
  • Star Tribune
  • October 23, 2012 - 10:54 PM

The Minneapolis school board voted unanimously Tuesday to stay in a west metro integration district, but only if the program agrees to changes.

The school board passed a resolution setting a Nov. 30 deadline for the West Metro Education Program (WMEP) board to act. Otherwise, at this end of this school year, Minneapolis will pull out of the 11-member district, which operates the two FAIR schools, one in downtown Minneapolis and the other in Crystal.

Among other changes, Minneapolis wants WMEP to give it permission to drop out with six months' notice, less than half the notice period now required.

According to Carla Bates, a member of both boards, Minneapolis wants the two schools to have student bodies that offer more than racial diversity, a more equitable funding formula for students attending the schools, and for WMEP to offer more diverse staff training and student programs.

Minneapolis wants the integration district schools to admit more students who are learning English, in poverty, homeless or eligible for special education. WMEP operates schools in downtown Minneapolis and Crystal under the names of Fine Arts Interdisciplinary Resources (FAIR), with about 1,000 students enrolled.

Bates said, "The [Minneapolis] board does not see WMEP right now as something that we would embrace without question. It's not our idea of what an integration district should be. We're just going to keep pushing to see how serious WMEP is to do this work."

The extension comes as uncertainty looms over the future of state integration aid to school districts, which the Legislature repealed, effective the end of the current school year.

It's the second time that Minneapolis has made noises about leaving the integration district. District staffers reported to board members last month that reading proficiency for students enrolled in WMEP was about the same as for applying students who were not accepted. Math scores for WMEP students were better, however.

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438 Twitter: @brandtstrib

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