Schools notebook // Office of New Schools meeting

Public meeting on Office of New Schools

Minneapolis Public Schools officials plan to share information on several potential new schools to launch in fall 2010 at a public meeting 6:30 p.m.–8 p.m. Jan. 14 at the Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center, 2001 Plymouth Ave. N.

The district developed the concept for its Office of New Schools as a part of its five-year strategic plan, approved by the School Board in 2007. The office will review proposals for new self-governed schools operated by district staff, charters and contract schools operated by other outside groups.

Those schools are expected to use innovative teaching and learning techniques to close the achievement gap, while remaining under district supervision. Renewal of new school contracts would be dependent on those schools meeting performance goals outlined in a district contract, according to district planning documents.

Emily Lowther of the district’s communications office said the School Board was expected to review three proposed new schools following the public meeting, including a self-governed French immersion school, a charter called Minnesota School of Science and another school concept called Universal Learning Academy. The district received five new school proposals for fall 2010, but two applications were withdrawn, Lowther said.

The Office of New Schools was developed in response to a goal outlined in the strategic plan. The district intends to focus greater attention on children in schools whose performance rates in the bottom 25 percent of the district.

Recommendations for this round of new schools will be presented to the School Board Jan. 19. A vote to approve the new schools was scheduled for
Jan. 26.

Light dinner and childcare will be provided at the Jan. 14 public meeting. To reserve a seat, call 668-0230.

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School board to give superintendent search update

The Minneapolis School Board will discuss its plan to find a replacement for Superintendent Bill Green at its Jan. 12 meeting, according to an update posted in December on the district website.

Green, a tenured professor on leave from Augsburg College, announced last July he would step down June 30, the final day of his current contract. The School Board waited until after a September vote on a major district restructuring plan to refocus its attention on the superintendent search process.

In October and November, Board members held a series of 24 listening sessions to gather input on selecting superintendent candidates. They met with more than 300 district stakeholders, including students, local business leaders and community groups, the district reported.

A brief report summarizing the results of those listening sessions, and also outlining the six characteristics the Board will use to evaluate superintendent candidates, was posted on the district website (mpls.k12.mn.us) Dec. 8.

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MPS middle school open houses

Families of students who will be in grades 6–8 next fall have several opportunities this month to learn more about the Minneapolis Public Schools’ middle schools.

The district’s Zone 3, which includes most of Southwest, is home to both Anthony and Anwatin middle school. The district plans to phase out the current Anwatin program beginning fall 2010 as part of a larger district downsizing, but will replace the school with a new Spanish immersion and International Baccalaureate middle school program.

Anwatin Middle School, 256 Upton Ave. S., holds its open house 6 p.m. Jan. 11. For more information call 668-2450 or visit the school’s website at anwatin.mpls.k12.mn.us.

Anthony Middle School, 5757 Irving Ave. S., holds its open house 6 p.m. Jan. 14. For more information call 668-3240 or visit the school’s website at anthony.mpls.k12.mn.us.

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Blake hosts open house events

LOWRY HILL — The Blake School will host two admissions meetings for prospective students Jan. 11 and 13, the school announced in December.

Current students and their parents will join Blake administrators and faculty to talk about the environment and curriculum at the school, which has campuses in Wayzata, Hopkins and the Lowry Hill neighborhood. About 1,400 students are enrolled in the private school from pre-kindergarten to grade 12.

The admissions meeting for students who will be in grades 9–12 next fall is 7 p.m.–9 p.m. Jan. 11 at the Upper School, 511 Kenwood Parkway. The admissions meeting for younger students is 6:45 p.m.–9 p.m. Jan. 13 at the Blake campus in Hopkins at 110 Blake Road S.

Admissions and financial aid applications are due Jan. 31. The school’s needs-based financial aid program awards about $3.5 million in financial aid to nearly 20 percent of the student body, Blake reported.

Notable Blake alumni include Senator Al Franken and former Senator Mark Dayton. For more information on the school or the meetings for prospective students, call the school admissions office at 952-988-3420 or read more online at blakeschool.org.