MPS is working on our Comprehensive Design Project based upon data from the Comprehensive District-wide Assessment. The Board has been presented with a model to look deeper at student attendance and demographics in different areas of the city.
I strongly believe a balance of community and magnet schools is critical for MPS given our segregated city and statewide system of choice. I will continue to advocate for access to both strong community schools and magnet schools with specialized programming that draw families from a larger attendance area to assist in integrating our highly segregated neighborhoods. While transportation costs are a factor, the cost of losing families must be considered when looking at possible changes to how we structure MPS and deliver public education.
I support working with the Superintendent to “right-size” and create fiscal stability and sustainability. This requires that we look at operations, transportation, programs, and building utilization. Some schools are at or over capacity while others are below or terribly underutilized. We clearly must increase our number of students by bringing kids back and retaining the students we have. However, this Design Project is not just about resources. It is also meant to establish foundational programming (predictable staffing).
For modeling purposes only, the Superintendent had our contractor break down the District in to quadrants (North, NE, SW, and South) and create elementary school attendance areas within those quadrants. The Board was presented data that looked at ALL students currently attending MPS in a quadrant, REGARDLESS of what school they attended, as long as they lived in that quadrant. Then Administration broke down the demographics of those students and used that information as the basis for looking at the potential student count and integration.
The model is assuming all schools are “community schools” and all elementary schools are K-5, with 6-8 and High School pathways. I was assured that this was for modeling purposes only. Administration is not ruling out specialty programs, like IB, Montessori, Immersion, Open, or culturally specific pathways (i.e. All Nations, Hmong Academy). It is also not ruling out a K-8 model, but for purposes of determining how many students are needed to increase the number of Minneapolis students we serve to 70%, the Superintendent simplified the model. If we increase our share of potential students from Minneapolis to 70%, we will have about an 85% utilization of our current facilities and more resources to adequately fund our schools.
Moving forward, I will continue to ask fro clarification because I believe that we must do the following:
- Look at current student demographics, where students live and where they attend schools (because it is sometimes out of their attendance area), ALONG WITH neighborhood demographics to ensure we are not segregating our school communities.
- Consider facility utilization with a full service community school model, creating space for partners and academic programming in a building.
- Engage with the community to discuss K-5 vs K-8, magnet school programs vs community schools, etc.
- Look at how any attendance area might segregate our city because there is a delicate balance between integration and community schools. We also must NOT pull students from one section of the city to another when it hurts some schools to benefit others. There must be programmatic pathways through high school that create healthy, vibrant and strong feeder systems.
- Allocating resources to schools and reducing administration.
- Early Childhood & Parent Education facilities, focusing on accessibility for communities that lack adequate programming, like North Minneapolis and for our immigrant families.
- A full service community school model that supports the whole child, shared spaces with community partners within our facilities to support wrap around services and academics.
- Career tech pathway programs with a stand alone facility on the Northside allowing students to take core classes and prerequisites at their community high schools then attend the Career Tech Facility for specialized programming, like IT, Engineering, Sustainability Career Fields, and Education Professionals (Early Childhood, Special Ed, ELL focuses).
- Access for all students to arts, extracurricular activities, electives, and world languages, as well as academics that prepares them for college and career because our kids are more than a test score!