By fits and starts, the Minneapolis School Board has started to address the question of crowding in Southwest Minneapolis Schools. While a major facilities planning study isn’t due out until some time later this year, many members of the board used a presentation on updated enrollment information to press district staff for information on overcrowding.
“I would really urge this board and this superintendent to say, ‘Hey do we need to tweak [the district’s zone-based enrollment scheme] and boundaries or do we need to build,’” board member Carla Bates said.
Citing Ramsey Fine Arts Academy’s policy of accepting students from both Southwest and South Minneapolis, Bates said she “took issue” with assertions that there were no empty buildings in Southwest Minneapolis to house the area’s expanding student population.
“That’s because we have made specific decisions around where we’re going to send children in this city,” Bates said.
According to district documents charting where students live, Ramsey draws 416 of its 954 kids from South Minneapolis, with most of the remainder living in Southwest. (To check out where students from all Minneapolis schools live, click on the black-screened PDF to the right).
Board member Lydia Lee asked whether or not principals at neighborhood schools still had the authority to let families who don’t live in their enrollment area start their children at their school.
“We do have to make that clear with our principals [that they can’t],” said Associate Superintendent Erin Glynn. “We also try to accommodate all families in each enrollment area.”
Glynn told the board that she was asked to serve on a district task force examining the crowding issue, but that it will not begin meeting until April.
Other issues covered at this week’s board meeting:
- Board members urged district staff to consider a plan to market the district, as well as focusing on ways to improve the district's schools.
- Community groups trying to recruit students for a redesigned North High School that has been proposed to start next year won four additional weeks to prove community interest in the school.
- Board members heard updates on the district's efforts to improve its kindergartener's literacy, to improve its services for English Language Learners, and its services for Special Education students.