School notes

Choice decisions for open-attendance area The results of the kindergarten school-choice guarantee for the Kingfield and East Harriet neighborhoods have recently been returned. Sixty-one percent of Kingfield and East Harriet families with children entering kindergarten got their first-choice school for the 2002-2003 school year, and another 35 percent got their second-choice. Last year, slightly more than 70 percent of the Kingfield-East Harriet families received their first-choice school, and 23 percent received their second choice.

Families in those neighborhoods had complained a couple years ago that because the area is an open-attendance area, with

no community school, their children were being shut out of nearby schools. They proposed building a new school in the Kingfield-East Harriet area, or preference for admission to some schools.

The School Board offered a short-term fix: Those families with children entering kindergarten in 2001 were allowed to identify three choices on their school request cards instead of the customary two. Two of the choices had to be community schools, while the third could be a magnet school.

This year, the district expanded the choice, saying that families with children entering kindergarten in 2002 could request two magnet schools and one community school, provided the magnet schools were Barton Open and Windom Open only.

Families were guaranteed one of their three choices if they turned in school request cards by January 15 of this year.

The district received 85 applications this year by January 15, compared with 53 last year. Barton Open was again the most popular school selected by Kingfield-East Harriet families.

Of the 85 applications received this year, the three most popular first choices were Barton Open (49 families), Burroughs Community School (15), and Lake Harriet (6). Only a third of those who selected Barton as their first-choice school were actually assigned to Barton. Otherwise, every family who selected a school other than Barton as their first choice received that school.

Two families were unassigned because one requested Barton as its only choice, while the other requested Barton as its first choice and Ramsey — another magnet school — as its second choice.

A group made up of parents, neighborhood organizations and school principals was recently formed to study the open areas and the three-choice guarantee, which was originally intended as a two-year interim plan.

Bob Wedl, head of policy and planning for the district, said the goal of the group, which will have its first meeting later

this month, is to somehow resolve the open-area issue and implement a plan in the Fall of 2003.

Wedl said in a previous interview that all options are still on the table, including redrawing boundaries in order to assign every household a community school and possibly splitting up the neighborhoods.

After the group convenes, Wedl said, the district will hold community meetings to elicit public input.

Jump-rope power displayed K-8 students from all over the city will demonstrate their rope jumping skills at Minneapolis Public Schools 22nd Annual Rope Power Night on March 26, 6:45 p.m., at Washburn High School. Students from numerous Southwest Minneapolis schools, including Burroughs, Kenny and Lake Harriet Upper, are participating in the event.

Elementary school students and physical education teachers developed the rope jumping class in the late seventies, said Pam Lindberg, a district curriculum specialist in physical education and health.

"There are 54 different skills that the students learn," Lindberg said. "And, it’s a progression of difficulty, so, for example, you might learn half a dozen skills one year and a dozen the next year and so on."

In addition to the classes during the day, Lindberg added, the students who are exhibiting at the Rope Power Night have participated in after-school practices similar to an athletic team.

The event is a popular one, said district communications liaison Melissa Winter.

"It’s like synchronized swimming but with jump ropes," Winter quipped.

South tops at state trial meet South High School recently won the Minnesota High School Mock Trial Competition and will represent the state at the national championships, which will be held May 9-12 in St. Paul.