Comprehensive District Design 2020

CDD ~ IT BEGAN AS A MODEL TO IMPROVE FISCAL STABILITY, FINANCIAL SUSTAINABILITY, ACCESS TO EQUITABLE OPPORTUNITIES IN EVERY COMMUNITY, AND, ULTIMATELY, IMPROVED ACADEMIC OUTCOMES.

In 2017, MPS began working on our Comprehensive Design Project based upon data from the Comprehensive District-wide Assessment. The Board was presented with a model to look deeper at student attendance and demographics in different areas of the city. The model assumed all schools configured as “community schools” and all elementary schools as K-5, with 6-8 and High School pathways. I was assured that this was for modeling purposes only. Administration was not ruling out specialty programs, like IB, Montessori, Immersion, Open, or culturally specific pathways (i.e. All Nations, Hmong Academy). It was 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. 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. 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. Finally, we discussed the cost of predictable school staffing and access to programming and academic opportunities across all communities/quadrants.

In December 2018, I cast one of my final votes as your At-Large School Board Director on the MPS Board of Education. We passed the following resolution to direct the Superintendent on the District’s CDD work. I proposed a number of amendments, including number six that addressed financial sustainability, bringing students back and retaining students to mitigate budget shortfalls and rebuild fund balance. Sadly, although this was a Board directive, a new Board began governing January 1, 2019, and the CDD went a different direction.

FAST FORWARD TO 2019/2020:

In October, 2019, the Board passed another Board priority resolution for the CDD (bold text added by me).

SO, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Board of Directors of Special School District No. 1, hereby directs and empowers the Superintendent to bring forth a set of recommendations, collectively known as the Comprehensive District Design, for Board action that incorporates the following:

  • Provides a well-rounded, early childhood through graduation, education so every student in every part of the city is equipped with the academic, social/emotional, and technical skills to be successful in college and/or career
  • Incorporates articulated thematic and/or specialized programming and predictable staffing to support academic opportunities for students
  • Is accessible to all parts of the city
  • Is rigorous, relevant, and responsive to student interests and goals
  • Includes a plan for a career and technical education (CTE) continuum that includes career exploration, career readiness courses, and career skills and credentials
  • Includes a plan for special education so students can access services near their home and that does not perpetuate school segregation or concentrate services
  • Includes a plan that allows students learning English to access schools using best practice methods and includes a holistic multilingual programming continuum
  • Is achievable and sustainable
  • Ensures equitable access to rigorous academic and credit attainment opportunities
  • Recognizes that racially and economically integrated schools benefit our students and are an asset to our community. Plans should:
    • Remove elements within our control that further segregation, including placement policies and school pathways
    • Reduce the number of racially isolated schools
    • Strategically place, draw boundary areas for, and enroll magnet schools that create integrated school environments without increasing segregation at other schools–any such magnets should be supported and funded accordingly
    • Not exclusively use the transportation of one group of students to achieve integration

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that plans should support existing priorities for student learning within Minneapolis Public Schools, including:

  • Continued focus on the four core priority areas (multi-tiered systems of support, equity, literacy, and social emotional learning), that will improve instruction for students of color and Indigenous students
  • Culturally responsive curricula including, but not limited to Ethnic Studies and STEAM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Arts/Mathematics)
  • Implement a racial equity focused school climate plan that will improve student retention, family and staff experiences, and student learning
  • Continue to recruit and retain staff of color
  • Continue to support the Full-Service Community School model

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the process to develop recommendations and plans must utilize the following guiding principles:

  • Be informed by data, research, and strong rationale provided for any significant changes
  • Be grounded in student, parent, educator, and community member input—with a prioritization of the voices of students of color, Indigenous students, immigrant students, and their families
  • Be critically analyzed through an anti-racist and proactively equity-focused lens

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that as a Board, we commit to:

  • Act when needed, even if difficult
  • Stand behind adopted actions with budget and other necessary resources
  • In accordance with our EDIA policy, address any policies that perpetuate institutional racism
  • Regularly revisit our actions to ensure follow through and accountability

AND FINALLY, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minneapolis Board of Education renews our call for partners and leaders to address the significant external factors impacting our students’ lives by:

  • Providing safe, affordable, and stable housing opportunities throughout the city
  • Eliminating unintended consequences of state and federal school choice policies
  • Fully funding education, especially special education and multilingual services
  • Protecting our immigrant students, families, and staff

In March/April/May, 2020, the MPS Board of Education received a CDD presentation at the March COW (Committee of the Whole) and official proposal from the Superintendent at the April Board meeting. The Board has discussed CDD and intends to vote on this proposal in May, in spite of the pandemic crisis we are all experiencing. The District is also revisiting the placement policy in order to reinforce the CDD plan. Community outreach on the plan never included the proposed actual boundaries, capital plans, transportation changes and associated costs, financial data, spreadsheets showing fiscal stability and sustainability, potential or proposed school closings, or any plan to bring students back to Minneapolis Public schools from out of district. Just recently did District leadership post greater details of the proposed CDD.

YOU ARE SPEAKING UP AND AGAINST A PLAN THAT LACKS TRANSPARENCY! Please follow the conversations and organized events on facebook on pages such as Minneapolis School Parents, Integrated Schools, Minneapolis Public School Families and Educators for Excellence, MFT59, and my campaign page RebeccaforMN.

As your District 6 School Board Candidate, I will lead with community, engaged and informed by my constituents. I am listening to you. Overwhelmingly, I hear equity and access to educational opportunities is critical. Overwhelmingly, I hear that choice, whether it is K-8 or magnet schools, is critical. Overwhelmingly, I hear you want to know how this plan creates much needed stability, financial sustainability, and improved academic outcomes and access to equitable opportunities for ALL students. Join me and my candidacy for School Board District 6 and let’s move forward with a Comprehensive District Design that works for students, families, and school communities, a CDD that reflects the realities of choice and includes a plan to not only retain our current students, but bring students back to undersubscribed school communities!

There are ways to move forward with a CDD that serves our students and families, creating stability and sustainability, increasing access within each community, and preserving choice, BUT WE MUST:

  1. Change placement practices that support relieving overcrowded buildings and balancing out undersubscribed schools.
  2. Consider facility utilization with a full service community school model that supports the whole child, creating shared spaces for partners, wrap around services and academic programming in a building.
  3. Explore PreK-6 and 7-8 grade configurations and dual campuses to pair small school sites with another building in close proximity, with costing and school capacity data. Look at these models along with K-8, maintaining community school and magnet school programming options.
  4. 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 IN EVERY COMMUNITY through high school that create healthy, vibrant and strong feeder systems.
  5. Prioritize Early Childhood & Parent Education facilities, focusing on accessibility for communities that lack adequate programming, like North Minneapolis and for our immigrant families.
  6. Invest in 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).
  7. Equitable access for all students to arts, extracurricular activities, electives, and world languages, as well as academics that prepares them for college and career.
  8. Provide multi measurements that reflect the quality and performance of our schools, that tell the story of who our schools serve, the programs and opportunities they provide, and how they are integral parts of their communities. Metrics, like attendance, family/community engagement, grades, community service, participation in extracurricular activities, and academic growth reflect the true quality of a school. OUR STUDENTS/SCHOOLS ARE MORE THAN A TEST SCORE!

Prepared and Paid for by Rebecca for MN.