Minneapolis Public Schools doubled the number of lotteries for families requesting a new school — a move that the district says is helping with racial and economic integration across the city.
The results of the lotteries show progress toward one of the main goals of the district's comprehensive redesign: reducing the number of racially identified schools, where the population of students of color is more than 20% above the district average for the grades it serves.
The district now has more than 20 schools in the category and a similar number of schools where more than 80% of the students qualify for free and reduced lunch. Eric Moore, the district's research and equity officer, said that based on the lottery results, he expects to see those numbers drop by almost a third come fall.
"This is long-term work to reduce the number of schools that are racially and economically segregated," Moore said. "This shows that through our magnet school process, we are able to do that."
The sweeping and controversial district redesign, approved in spring 2020, redraws attendance boundaries and relocates magnet schools to the center of the city — moves that leaders say will save on transportation costs and help address racial disparities. Those changes mean that thousands of students have been assigned a new school for next fall.
After both lotteries, predicted enrollment at each of the 11 magnet schools is expected to change to better integrate students of various races and economic backgrounds. Some of the most significant shifts are forecast for Andersen United Community School and Green Central Elementary, which are both set to become magnet schools next year.
Andersen is expected go from 95% students of color to 74% this fall. The projected enrollment is also predicted to drop the percentage of students on free and reduced-price lunch — a common measure of students from low-income families — from 91 to 59%. At Green, the percentage of students of color is expected to drop from 91 to 74% and the percentage of students on free and reduced lunch will shift from 88 to 61%.
This was the first year the district offered a second round of the lottery system, which was a result of an equity and diversity impact assessment that showed that white families were disproportionately using the previous system to get their first-choice school. This year, the percentage of families getting their top-choice school looked similar by race, Moore said.
The COVID-19 pandemic limited in-person outreach opportunities, but the district worked to increase messaging about the lotteries to communities of color and low-income areas. Providing the second lottery offered the district a chance to inform families who may not have heard about the first round and ensure a mix of students placed in the magnet schools, said Martha Swanson, the district's director of student placement.
"It was a tool to start moving us toward our goals," she said, adding that the district plans to keep offering the additional lottery round in future years.
The district is now aiming to help with the transition process for students who were reassigned to a new school because of the district redesign.
"Change is always incredibly hard," Moore said. "But the experience we're working toward is having less variation in schools by ZIP code. … We haven't met our goals yet, but we're seeing that the efforts are working."
Mara Klecker • 612-673-4440