Ramsey Parents: New Demands And Cautious Optimism
The district's restructuring plan has drawn sharp criticism and scrutiny from Ramsey insiders.
A group of parents and teachers representing Ramsey International Fine Arts Center, critical of a proposal to move them across the district to make way for a new middle school, have a list of demands for winning their support.
They presented this list Tuesday night to Minneapolis Public Schools board members, who see the new middle school as necessary as part of a larger, $42.1 million plan to address crowding in many parts of the city.
Among the demands put forth by the Ramsey coalition are advance approval of the entire district budget, marketing dollars to help attract prospective parents to the moved school and a place for Ramsey representatives to supervise the move.
"We don't want this to happen, but we're realists, and we realize there are other people affected," said Alison Dunkelberger, a leader among the Ramsey parents.
The board's proposal is designed to relieve crowding at Southwest's Anthony Middle School. Preliminary parts of the plan, including the building of an addition on Lake Harriet Community School, have already been approved. The new middle school, which would fill Ramsey's current home, would serve students from Lyndale and Burroughs Community Schools.
The demands from Ramsey parents and teachers, Dunkelberger and others said, were necessary to help the school continue its delicate recovery from years of mismanagement and academic failure. Ramsey parents said they were fighting hard because they felt the school had finally started to climb out of its hole.
Their demands include:
- Approval of the entire budget in advance of the move, to make sure money is there for the move,
- Transparency around the project's timeline, and accountability for district leaders spearheading the move,
- A coalition of Ramsey parents and teachers to join district administrators in supervising the move,
- Marketing support to compensate for the fact that the magnet school's new building will not be ready in time to show prospective parents this winter as they search for a school,
- An earlier start time to enable more enrichment programs to be held after school. Ramsey currently starts at 9:40 a.m.
Board members Carla Bates, Hussein Samatar, Alberto Monserrate and Rebecca Gagnon expressed support for the Ramsey parents's requirements. Gagnon said she believes district leaders understand they must show Ramsey parents how the move will be carried out and kept on track. The board will hold at least one study session before a final vote on the plan, which administrators presented to the board at the same meeting Tuesday night.
"There's a lot of hope here," said LaTonia Jackson, another Ramsey parent at Tuesday's meeting.
"I think we were heard," Dunkelberger said after Tuesday's meeting. "It's great to see that they're responding, but that doesn't mean that they're going to follow through. And that's the piece we're going to keep pushing on."