Barton edges out Lake Harriet and Burroughs as top kindergarten choice

District says 96 percent of parents received first choice for ’04-’05 school year

Of the 2,283 parents who submitted their Minneapolis kindergarten school choice cards on time, 96 percent got their first choice, according to district officials.

Parents can submit two or three kindergarten choices, depending on whether they live in an area with a designated community school. So far, parents have registered 2,600 kindergarteners for 2004-05 — 200 more than this year. Minneapolis officials have budgeted for 3,200 kindergarteners for the coming school year.

That’s good news for the district where declining overall enrollment has worsened a serious budget problem. Still, Minneapolis Student Placement Coordinator Jackie Turner said no one knows the actual kindergarten enrollment until kids show up on the first day of school, Sept. 7.

"The unique thing about this year is that we let parental choice dictate where the classrooms would go," Turner said. "In the past, we’ve had classrooms based more on historical trends and demographics. This time, we let parents tell us where they

want to see classrooms with their choice request cards."

In Southwest, Barton Open had the most first-choice requests — 133 for 77 open slots. Lake Harriet Community had 132 first choices for 110 slots and Burroughs Community had 128 first choices for 132 slots.

Ramsey Fine Arts Magnet had 88 first choices for 88 slots.

Kenny Community School — which the district announced would merge with Armatage Community School after parents made their kindergarten selections — had 32 first choices. (The district has delayed any merger, though it may happen in 2005-06.) Armatage Community had 25 first choices, while Armatage Montessori — which shares the 2501 W. 56th St. building — had 35 first choices.

Barton, Burroughs, Lake Harriet, Armatage Community and Armatage Montessori all have waiting lists. Southwest schools with open slots include Jefferson Community, 1200 W. 26th St., and Lyndale Community, 312 W. 34th St.

"Open area" neighborhoods such as Kingfield and East Harriet have no designated community school, so the district guarantees families one of their three choices, as long as one is a magnet. District officials say they met the guarantee in all cases. Open-area parents had to pick Barton, Burroughs or Lake Harriet first to have a chance at getting in those schools.

Citywide, 99 percent of families received their first or second choice.

Despite districtwide enrollment declines, Southwest school attendance has remained steady for the past several years.

Lake Harriet, 4030 Chowen Ave. S., will have five 22-student kindergarten classes in 2004-05, the same as this year. Burroughs, 1501 W. 50th St., will again have six 22-student sessions.

Windom, 5821 Wentworth Ave. S, which begins its dual Spanish immersion program in September, will have two 22-kindergartener sessions.

Barton, 4237 Colfax Ave. S, is unique in that it has four sessions and 77 seats — fewer kindergarteners per class because some sessions include 1st-graders.

Each school will have at least one all-day kindergarten session. Traditionally, schools with higher numbers of students in poverty receive more money for additional all-day kindergarten classes.

Some, such as Jefferson Principal Ray Aponte, is formulating his budget to keep all of his school’s kindergarten classes all-day, despite a fourth year of cuts.