"Valley Crossing is unlike any other K-6 school in Minnesota," the school's website asserts.

But now that the school has been sold to one of its three partner districts, remaining "unlike any other" may prove tricky.

Parents drawn to what the school calls its "unique, child-centered philosophy" are wondering whether it's going to be the same place under the sole control of the South Washington County district.

But the leaders of the district have to think, too, about the parents who will now live within conventional attendance boundaries. What if they'd prefer a more conventional school?

The two sides faced off last week. Superintendent Keith Jacobus and several top aides agreed to show up at a parent meeting that drew scores of worried faces.

"We are hearing that parents here need some face-to-face time," Assistant Superintendent Julie Nielsen told them. "That you need more hand-holding. But we can't answer all your questions."

Until this year, the school was run by three districts: North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale (622), South Washington County (833) and Stillwater Area (834). More than 80 percent of the students come from the latter two districts.

The school's sale — the actual takeover isn't until July 2016 — comes in the context of growth and a need for more space in the South Washington district, the superintendent explained.

Officials lavished praise on the school as is. Matt Dorschner, director of teaching and learning, praised its "incredible atmosphere for learning."

But it's not like other schools. It's a relatively wall-free, open concept, with grades and age groups mingled and with teachers having the same students for several years.

The sale, however, brings a host of questions. As one parent put it: "So many things are up in the air, it makes us nervous."

There's the question of transition, for instance: What happens to existing students?

The district does wish to make sure all of them can finish, but then the rules of access will change. Those living within yet-to-be-created attendance boundaries will have priority, followed by others within 833 and then all others.

Another major question is programming: Will it remain unique?

"No decisions have been made on programming," Nielsen said. Dorschner added: "There is flexibility; we want to look at what are the strengths of Valley Crossing and have ongoing conversations. The multi-age classroom for instance is "something to look at — we can't comment firmly."

How about putting up walls?

"There's no decision whether to put up walls," Jacobus said. "We want to make sure the building is viable, that we don't drive people out … we want to work through it.

"If we can come out of this with everyone being happy, that's our goal."

Officials encouraged parents to check the school's website, http://www.sowashco.k12.mn.us, whose home page lists under "hot topics" that of "Valley Crossing Community School."

Attendance boundaries, they said, will be discussed from June to November and will cross-connect with a bond referendum the district seeks.

David Peterson • 651-925-5039