The Potluck

Minneapolis school board approves sweeping district restructure

By: - May 13, 2020 9:43 am

The Minneapolis School Board held a virtual meeting May 12 to vote on the district’s Comprehensive District Design plan.

The Minneapolis School Board on Tuesday approved a controversial plan that leaders say will integrate schools, address achievement gaps and make programs more accessible to underserved students.

The board voted 6-3 in favor of the Comprehensive District Design (CDD), which includes major changes to attendance boundaries and magnet programs that will likely take effect in the 2021-22 school year, the Star Tribune reported. Many parents and teachers had asked the board to delay the contentious vote during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the virtual meeting, the board heard more than two hours of voicemail testimony and received more than 300 written comments, the vast majority of them expressing opposition to the plan, the Star Tribune reported. Some critics said they agree that the district needs to take action to improve equity and outcomes for students of color but don’t believe there’s enough proof that this plan will work.

Others urged officials to move ahead, saying efforts to improve persistent educational disparities are long overdue.

Board member Kimberly Caprini said she’s watched as officials approved policies that deliberately moved resources away from the North Side, MPR reported. Caprini, who is Black, said her children have experienced the inequities the plan aims to address.

“This is academic justice. It is academic justice for a system that has failed Black and brown children,” Caprini said. “I cannot in good conscience delay this vote.”

As part of the plan’s goal to reduce the number of racially and economically segregated schools, about 14% of the district’s 35,000 students will switch schools in fall 2021. The CDD doesn’t require high school students to move schools.

Some of the district’s popular programs will be eliminated and magnet schools will be relocated to more central parts of the city. The district expects restructuring will cost about $11 million each year, plus $560 million for capital projects in the next five years, the Star Tribune reported.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.