Eden Prairie OKs Changing School Lines

Kelly Smith, Star Tribune (Minneapolis-St. Paul), December 21, 2010

The Eden Prairie School Board on Tuesday endorsed a plan to move as many as 1,100 elementary school children to new schools next fall, largely to desegregate the increasingly diverse district.

In a gymnasium packed with 200 people, the board voted 4-3 to let district administrators, led by Superintendent Melissa Krull, move the children to address capacity issues as well as disparate concentrations of students with economic needs. It’s expected to result in the district’s most extensive boundary changes in a decade.

Eden Prairie’s decision has been widely anticipated by metro-area districts facing similar changes in student demographics, as they address the segregation of poverty and race in their schools.

The plan has been strongly opposed by many parents who fear the loss of neighborhood K-4 schools. While voicing public protests, they had urged school leaders to come up with a better plan.

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In Eden Prairie, home to 9,700 students, district administrators say they need to balance uneven capacity in schools and reduce a more than 33 percent gap among elementary schools in the number of low-income students.

The plan, championed by Krull, would move grades five and six from an intermediate school into K-4 elementary schools. Boundary lines would be redrawn to balance concentrations of poverty, which aligns with race.

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Parent Ahmed Jama was the only person to speak on behalf of the plan. “We need to change in order to educate all of our students,” he said.

About six parents spoke against it, pleading with the board to rethink other options to integrate the district and close the achievement gap while keeping schools K-4. “{snip}

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