Students currently in Minneapolis high schools can remain the same school even after the district changes attendance boundaries, officials said Monday.
Students in grades 10 through 12 will graduate from their current high school. The high school transition will start in 2021 with incoming ninth-graders, and school choice options remain in play, said Superintendent Ed Graff.
But parents hoping to learn more details about the new attendance boundaries will have to wait another month.
During the first of two informational meetings scheduled this week, officials flashed a vague boundary map with few details during a presentation at Roosevelt High School. Graff said some aspects of the boundary changes will be presented to the school board March 5, with final recommendation to the full board for approval March 24.
Officials also announced that the district's high school career and technical education programs will become centrally located at North, Roosevelt and Edison high schools. These courses teach skills such as computer science, engineering, robotics and agriculture.
It will take several years before the three high schools offering the programs will be remodeled and ready for students, but the current programs will continue.
"The new district design is more than any single element — it's not just about changing boundaries," said Graff. "It's about the delivery of expectations for how students are valued in their schools."
More than 200 people attended Monday night's meeting. Graff and other officials said resources aren't accessible to students at each of the seven high schools and that Henry and North are "racially isolated," with North at just 17.5% capacity. Three high schools have enrollment under 900 students, and Graff said that number would be a minimum target under the new plan.
Questions from the audience, which were read by a moderator, were sometimes met with angry shouts or applause. Parents tried to get answers on whether specific programs would be eliminated. They also asked how transportation to the new program centers would operate.
One parent wanted to know if teachers from higher-achieving high schools would be transferred to lower-performing schools. Others asked about class sizes, the retention of students and teachers of color and closing the achievement gap between white and nonwhite students. More than two-thirds of the district's 34,000 students are students of color, and Graff said 50% of that population isn't succeeding.
"Not all students have the same opportunities to succeed. We need to fix it now," said Aimee Fearing, the district's senior academic officer.
Geoff Isaacman has an eighth- and 12th-grader, and wants to make sure the school choices he's already submitted will be accepted.
"I'm a product of the school district and I love it," he said. "But if they don't keep the community engaged, they are heading for failure."