Schools plan ends two Southwest magnets, creates integration program

MPS downsizing would save $7.5 million to $8.5 million
 
Two Southwest magnet programs would end and another might change under a Minneapolis Public Schools restructuring plan released Monday.

Changes in 2010 would eliminate school programs and redraw attendance boundaries to limit busing, saving $7.5 to 8.5 million annually. The Changing School Options Plan, to be presented at tonight’s School Board meeting, also would close four schools in South neighborhoods.

The district updated its website (www.mpls.k12.mn.us) with an outline of the plan Monday afternoon. The School Board votes on the plan May 26.

Many cuts target small school programs the district says are an inefficient use of resources, especially now when it faces a $28 million budget shortfall. New attendance rules would keep many children closer to home, reducing transportation costs.

The district aims to improve the diversity of its schools as it transitions to a smaller, more-efficient school system. The changes, it estimates, could bring two to three more schools within its target range for diversity: 30 to 70 percent students of color.

The plan creates a voluntary integration program between North Minneapolis and one Southwest school. The school isn’t named, but several in Southwest have disproportionate numbers of white students.

There was no estimate of how many students might switch schools in fall 2010. That number will be determined largely by the new attendance boundaries drawn this summer.

Attendance boundaries determine which schools Minneapolis children can attend. Most families have a choice between one community school within their attendance area and a magnet program that might be located outside their attendance area.

The number of magnet programs will drop to 11 from 16, eliminating some long bus rides. The district will offer each family busing to four or five of those magnets, depending on where they live within three new transportation zones.

Some magnets will “demagnetize” and change to community schools.

All students will have a community school, too. The district intends to close open attendance areas where families bused to community and magnet schools in other neighborhoods.

Several Southwest schools are directly impacted by the changes:

— Parkview Montessori Magnet will close;

— Kenwood Performing Arts will be demagnetized and attendance boundaries will be redrawn;

— Ramsey Fine Arts Magnets will remain a magnet, but its theme may change.

Several existing magnet programs in Southwest will be made available to families living in the new transportation zone for South neighborhoods, including: International Baccalaureate at Whittier International Elementary School; Spanish dual-immersion at Windom Community School; and the Ramsey magnet program.

District officials also will consider making Armatage Community School an all-Montessori site.