Protesters oppose plan to close schools
MPR reported Wednesday that hundreds of community members attended a Minneapolis school board hearing Tuesday night to protest the plan to close six schools on the the city's North Side.
The crowd, which consisted of parents, students, and teachers, came to the meeting with concerns about the Northside Initiative, which would close both elementary and K-8 schools. The proposed schools include Jordan Park, Davis Academy, Lincoln, North Star and Shingle Creek in Minneapolis. The sixth is Tuttle Elementary, located in Southeast Minneapolis.
School board officials say that the school closings are necessary to combat dropping enrollment among North Side schools. Over the last 7 years, the Northside district has lost nearly half of its enrolled students to other schools, including suburban, private and charter institutions.
The Northside Initiative would also require a core curriculum, full-day kindergarten, languages, fine arts and music in the remaining schools. The money saved from closing the schools will be used to try to narrow the growing achievement gap apparent in Northside schools, where test scores have dropped dramatically compared to other districts.
Critics of the plan, however, have questions about the success that it will have. Lily Rothbart, a special education teacher at Jordan Park, expressed her doubts.
"Six schools is too drastic, and it deprives certain neighborhoods of a school completely," Rothbart said. "If the district is hoping to actually fix a problem and not just save money for something, this isn't the way to do it"
The Star Tribune reported on the plan on Wednesday, April 4. In the article, Minneapolis school finance chief Peggy Ingison reassured the school board that the plan will work on the North Side due to the poverty of the students coupled with their lagging test scores, a combination that will bring in more aid. However, she cautioned against employing the strategy in other parts of the city that are performing better and have kept up their enrollment.
The school board has been asked to approve the Northside Initiative on Thursday, April 12.