Home address key to school placement in Minneapolis district

Elementary school students walk to school as part of International Walk and Bike to School Day. File photo

Public schools in Southwest Minneapolis often receive more requests to attend than they can accommodate.

In those cases, Minneapolis Public Schools prioritizes factors such as a student’s home address and sibling attendance to determine acceptance.

For neighborhood and community schools, such as Lake Harriet, Lyndale and Southwest, students who live in the attendance area are among the highest priority for placement, only behind students who need specific English language support. Attendance areas are based on a 2009 downsizing plan that divided the district into three attendance zones and broke those zones into attendance areas, each with their own community school.

The protocol gives students who live in the attendance area priority if they have siblings at the school. Students who live in the attendance area are prioritized over other Minneapolis students.

In grades K–8, attendance-area students are the only ones eligible to receive transportation to community schools. MPS uses public transit for high school students.

The protocol is different for magnet schools, such as Armatage, Barton and Windom, which offer specialized programs or teaching methods. The magnet protocol prioritizes poverty concentration and free and reduced price lunch status over attendance area in schools with low representations of students in poverty. Magnet students also receive district transportation.

71 percent in Southwest

The district fulfilled about 80 percent of students’ first-choice school requests for 2017–2018, but the rate was about 71 percent for Southwest Minneapolis. Lake Harriet Community School’s upper campus, which serves grades 4–8, fulfilled the lowest percentage of first requests (18), followed by Barton (35) and Seward Montessori (49).

Thee district fulfilled first-choice requests to magnet schools at lower rate than to neighborhood and community schools. Schools in North and Northeast were able to accept students at a higher rate than schools in South or Southwest.

Bryan Fleming, director of enrollment management for MPS, said most of the requests are for entry-level grades, such as kindergarten, sixth grade and ninth grade. Fleming said acceptance rates have held steady over the past few years, including at the more popular schools.

“Those are schools that are burgeoning, not just in terms of programming effectiveness,” he said. “Those are areas of the city that are growing in terms of the demographics.”

Fleming said that in spite of the district’s budget challenges, his office is very cognizant and concerned about the experience for all students, particularly students of color and students on the North Side. It’s trying to be more intentional about retaining students and “demystifying” the enrollment process, he said, and it’s doing everything it can to be more responsive to families that bring forth concerns.

Request process online

The district lays out its request processes on its pre-K–8 and high school requests sites. Those sites allow parents to enter their address and find their community school and other school options with transportation.

The pre-K–8 site explains who needs to request a school, how to request a school, lists transportation information and includes a list of frequently asked questions, among other information. The high school site contains similar information, with additional information on parent involvement and academic focus areas.

Fleming wrote in an email that parents should be thinking about features such as class size, curriculum scope and sequence, before- and after-school options and volunteer opportunities when choosing a school. Other areas to consider would be academic rigor and college prep, faculty, diversity, athletics, arts and community engagement, he wrote.

All school requests can be submitted online. Contact the student-placement center at 668-1840 with any questions.

Minneapolis Public Schools enrollment links/information

*District Student Placement office: studentplacement.mpls.k12.mn.us

*Pre-K-8 School Request Center: schoolrequest.mpls.k12.mn.us (includes information on transportation, attendance areas and frequently asked questions)

*High School Request Center: highschoolrequest.mpls.k12.mn.us (includes information on academic focuses, boundaries and more).

*The district’s schools lottery opens on Nov. 15, and the school request deadline is midnight on Feb. 3.

*As part of its 2017 Visit our Schools campaign, the district is asking its K-5 and K-8 buildings to invite their neighborhood communities into the schools at least once between Oct. 25 and Nov. 15. The event and its timing are designed to help families keep MPS schools in the forefront of their thinking as they explore and consider school-choice options for 2018-19. Additional details will be forthcoming soon.