DULUTH – School boundaries won’t change until fall 2021 at the earliest, the Duluth school board decided Monday night, relenting to a deluge of negative feedback on proposed changes.
Amid widespread pushback on boundary options released last month, and an ongoing search for a new superintendent, the board voted 5-0 to continue the boundary change conversation into the next school year and keep current maps in place.
“It turned out to be unfortunate timing,” said Superintendent Bill Gronseth, who is retiring at the end of the school year. “When we entered into talks (with a consulting firm) last fall I did not think it would be happening at same time as a superintendent search.”
In January the district released three boundary change scenarios prepared by Cooperative Strategies to deal with uneven enrollment at schools across the district.
The plans drew criticism over equity, long bus rides and potential neighborhood disruption. In response, district administrators then said the process should slow down, with priority given to elementary school boundaries. Monday’s school board resolution went even further in delaying any changes, allowing class size disparities to continue at least another year.
“We’re at a good point to pause,” said school board member Rosie Loeffler-Kemp.
It has been more than a decade since boundaries were last changed as part of the $300 million Red Plan that continues to cast a shadow over the district.
On Monday many supporters of the Misaabekong Ojibwe Immersion Program at Lowell Elementary (also home to a Spanish immersion program) expressed frustration at the possibility it could be relocated to a different school farther from the city center and many of the families it serves.
“You’re asking us to move again, when in this city there is so much that has been done wrong to American Indian people,” said parent Bobbi Jo Potter. “Can you make the right decision?”