High schools in north Minneapolis would gain a significant number of students under a controversial district restructuring plan, while south-side schools would shrink and become less diverse.
North High School would swell from 326 students to 1,431 and no longer be considered “racially isolated” — having more than 80% of students belonging to one group. Patrick Henry High School would remain racially isolated, with 91% students of color, but would gain 524 students, according to projections for attendance boundary changes proposed by Minneapolis Public Schools leaders.
The redrawn boundaries are part of the district’s Comprehensive District Design (CDD) plan to radically reshape the school system. District leaders have proposed the plan, which also includes cutting and relocating magnet schools, to address deep race and class disparities and an anticipated budget shortfall of nearly $20 million. They presented updated boundaries to the school board Thursday night.
Most high schools would gain students and become more diverse under the proposed redistricting. South and Southwest high schools would lose students and become less diverse.
Southwest High School would lose nearly a third of its students — from 1,833 down to 1,249 — and become significantly less diverse. That’s because Southwest would lose a large swath of its attendance zone to North High.
Enrollment at South High School would remain relatively flat, but the student body would become racially isolated, with 88% students of color.
These projections are based on how many high school-aged students live in neighborhoods within the proposed boundaries, said Eric Moore, the district’s chief of accountability, innovation and research. The projections also account for assumptions that some students may open-enroll in schools outside their attendance zones or leave the district, he said.
“We’re doing our best to ensure that the experiences regardless of where folks live in the city is a diverse opportunity for learning,” Moore said.
Students in grades 10 through 12 will be able to graduate from their current high schools even after the boundaries shift. The proposed boundary changes would start in 2021 with incoming ninth-graders, Superintendent Ed Graff said recently.
The district’s career and technical education (CTE) programs will become centrally located at North, Roosevelt and Edison high schools. The courses teach skills such as engineering, robotics, welding and agriculture.
“We need to make it accessible for all of our students in the district,” said district senior academic officer Aimee Fearing. She noted that white male students are overrepresented in these programs despite making up a smaller percentage of the student body.
School board member KerryJo Felder, who represents the North Side, was disappointed by the allocation of CTE programs. She said families and teachers at North High have long sought trade programs but would not get them under the redesign. “We still aren’t getting the educational programming that we need at North High School,” Felder said.
District leaders said the plans will likely be tweaked before the final proposal goes to the school board March 24. They said they are sifting through more than 7,000 pieces of feedback. “We’re very cognizant of concerns and fears. These are our children, this is our community,” Moore said.