The West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan school board unanimously approved a resolution stating their intent to withdraw from the East Metro Integration District (EMID), a collaborative of 10 school districts designed to address racial and economic equity issues and promote integration.
The collaborative coordinates professional development for teachers and sponsors student programming. In the past, they ran two schools.
With EMID, "Collaboration is probably the biggest advantage," said Jean Lubke, EMID's executive director. "You can do more things if you're larger than if you're smaller."
But West St. Paul administrators believe the cost of belonging outweighs the benefits, and that the district could provide some of its services in-house. The district might also independently partner with other districts and buy services -- AVID training or artist-in-residence programs -- themselves.
Approving the resolution doesn't mean they are withdrawing immediately, said Superintendent Nancy Allen-Mastro, but "this puts us into an exploration phase." In a year, board members will make a final decision, effective July 2016.
EMID has existed since 1995, and had "a steady 10 districts" for many years, though not always the same ones. The last to leave was Mahtomedi nearly a decade ago, Lubke said.
"It's always a concern when you have members change," Lubke said.
Membership this year costs $30 per student, or about $150,000 for the West St. Paul district. Next year, it will cost $10 per student. That's about $50,000 a year, but other programming costs will still bring the total to $150,000, district documents said.
In order to receive integration funding from the state, districts must form a collaborative. St. Paul, Roseville and Spring Lake Park qualify because they are considered racially isolated. The other member districts -- Forest Lake, Inver Grove Heights, South St. Paul, South Washington County, Stillwater and White Bear Lake -- are adjoining districts or voluntary members.
West St. Paul will continue to purchase programming from EMID, like an AVID camp and kindergarten readiness classes, through this year and next, said Lubke.
Other integration districts in the metro include the 11-district West Metro Education Program and the 8-district Northwest Suburban Integration School District.