Jerry Markie

Robyn Lee-Dobbs let us know that Jerry Markie, a huge advocate of EMID and public education, died this week. He presented many stories about EMID on his public access education show. He and his wife Dolores raised their granddaughter, a student at Harambee and Crosswinds through 10th grade.

More details about his passing and family plans are in the Pioneer Press.

Tablet laptos + Legos = Integration

District 622 has announced the programs that it has funded with the integration dollars it now controls after leaving EMID. There are a few genuine integration efforts funded, but the list also includes gems like tablet laptops and lego robotics. It looks like it is more integration than not, but there is no indication of the funding level for each program, so it is hard to say for sure.

EMID Off the June Agenda

Alert! The EMID item has been removed from the June 23 school board meetings of Distict 622 and Roseville. The superintendent of 622, Pattie Phillips, has refused to bring the item to the board this months since she could not get the final wording of the MDE/EMID/Roseville/622 agreement for the board agenda which was sent out last week. The item will now appear, we are told, next month. Roseville, which does not usually have a July meeting, will nonetheless call a special meeting of the board in July to consider this matter.

Bottom line: none of the plans have changed since the “summit meeting” of these four parties earlier this month. Only the date of the relevant board meetings has changed to July. There is no need to attend these two board meetings this month for EMID issues.

Shari Thompson has noted that even if 622 were to pull out of this agreement at this late date, MDE has assured EMID that transportation for any legacy 622 kids currently enrolled in EMID schools would be fully covered. If this were to happen, those kids would just be, technically, “open-enrolled” instead. It is unlikely to come to this, though. Everyone expects 622 to honor the principals and elements of the agreement with MDE and Roseville and EMID on 6/4.

For it’s part, EMID will go ahead with its announcement to parents on 6/24. They feel parents really need to know about this resolution and can’t wait for a set of July board meetings. So those of you in 622 should expect letters next week.

Summit with 622 and Roseville generates results

A meeting this morning of the superintendents of ISD 622, Roseville, and EMID schools with a representative from the Minnesota Department of Education has produced an agreement on how the three districts will structure the attendance of district 622 students at EMID schools. This agreement will be considered for ratification by the 622 and Roseville boards of education on Tuesday, June 23rd.

The agreement states that any 622 student currently enrolled in an EMID school will be allowed to “age-out” of EMID. This means they can continue to attend EMID schools through the completion of the EMID curriculum at Crosswinds. Their transportation costs will be covered by the state with no charge back to the families.

Siblings of current EMID students from 622 will be allowed to “open enroll” in EMID schools though an arrangement with the Roseville schools as EMID’s fiscal host. Their transportation will be paid for by EMID, but EMID will charge families a portion of those costs back ($250/year/student up to a family maximum of $600/year, all charges waived for families of kids receiving free or reduced lunches).

Any other students who want to attend EMID schools from district 622 will also be welcome to open enroll on the same terms as siblings, even if nobody in their family has previously attended an EMID school.

Again, just to be very clear: this agreement has not yet been ratified by the school boards in question. It is a very positive development, but we will have to await actions of these boards for final word. EMID plans to send out notices to families on June 24th, after the agreement has been ratified.

This is a much more positive result than many were expecting. It demonstrates that 622 is not intent on preventing attendance at EMID schools and it underscores the wonderful support we are getting from Roseville as our fiscal host. If you are available on the evening of Tuesday, 6/23, it would be great to attend one or the other of these two district board meetings to both ensure the agreement is ratified and to thank these school boards for their support of our kids being able to continue attending EMID schools.

MDE brokering transportation for current EMID families in 622

At our EMID Families meeting this week we learned of a new plan afoot for 622 families in EMID, this time being pushed by MDE.

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has woken up to the situation of existing 622 families in EMID and is working on a plan to help make continuing with EMID schools possible. The open enrollment option that EMID had been working on had one severe drawback for many families, it would require them to subsidize transportation of the kids to EMID. Both open enrollment at EMID and the transportation arrangement that EMID was trying to work out would have been unprecedented in the state, so MDE had to be involved in making way for these options. Now that MDE is awake to the situation they have determined that another course would be simpler, no open enrollment, no costly transportation, instead they would simply allow 622 families who already have a child in EMID to continue sending their children to EMID schools with fully subsidized transportation (in other words, free to the families) until they graduated from EMID or decided to leave the district for other reasons.

This plan differs from open enrollment in that other families, who have not yet had kids attending EMID schools, would not be able to send their kids to EMID. The MDE plan applies only to families currently enrolled in EMID, though it would allow younger siblings to take advantage of EMID. EMID would not be allowed to open enroll other students from 622 or any other district.

This plan is very good news for existing 622 families in EMID. It means your kids can continue at Harambee and Crosswinds without any extra transportation cost. We got this message from Shari Thompson in the EMID administration:

EMID has not had the authority to open enroll students directly to our district and all of this is precedent setting for EMID as well as the state. While we would welcome attendance from all ISD 622 families, our first commitment is to continue to serve our current families which includes the much needed transportation services for students. Please be assured that this issue is of the highest priority to us and we are continuing to work to resolve the situation. We are hopeful that we can come to final resolution with MDE very soon and as soon as we have that information we will communicate it to all families.

Note, this plan is not yet a done deal. Details may shift. The MDE commissioner has yet to sign off on the plan and other details need to be settled with EMID and 622. We are sharing this because we believe that some information is better than silence, but we hope you understand that the outline of this plan could still shift before the dust settles.

Longer term this plan does close down some creative options for EMID to expand its appeal as an open enrollment destination for families across the metro area. EMID is actively working with other integration districts across the metro to find areas where common effort can increase the opportunities and efficiencies of all the districts.

UPDATE: A reader asked me “Do you know Eric what that means for new families that are registered for next year already?”

The answer from Shari…

“Unfortunately we don’t yet have an answer to this question. EMID will make the argument that these families applied for enrollment to the EMID schools while we were all (EMID, ISD 622, and MDE) under the impression that open enrollment was the best viable option. We are awaiting word from MDE before we can continue the dialogue with them.”

EMID Families meets Tuesday, 3/31

Please join us for a special, spring get together with other EMID Families.

WHEN: Tuesday, March 31 at 7 pm
WHERE: Harambee Elementary School (in the annex)
WHY: To see other EMID Families, to meet Steve Hunt (the newly elected 622 School Board Representative), and to learn the latest information from EMID Business Manager, Shari Thompson, about how the 622 pull out will affect us.

Special Note: Families are invited to bring food and beverages to share with one another and our guests. If you wish to contribute something, please reply to this email so that I may coordinate the contributions. Also, please notify me if childcare or other accommodations are needed and I will look into this.

Feel free to invite new families or others who have not previously been a part of this group. Hope to see you all there!

Prior to the meeting, you may want to review Jan, Feb, March board minutes and packets, found on the EMID Web site. They contain information on staff reductions resulting from the 622 pull-out, formal notice that Mahtomedi is leaving the district, and the possibility of a broader, metro wide integration partnership in the future.

EMID Families meets Tuesday, 2/3

Jeff traded some email with Dr. Wahlstrom today. He said he is considering attending the Feb. 3 meeting, or might send Kathy Griebel or Shari Thompson. Jeff let him know that we’d love to see him there, but he wanted to be honest and let him know our attendance is not that great, so he would know we are not a huge crowd. Please join us! Let us know you are coming by leaving a comment on this entry!

Remember… Tuesday 2/3, 7 pm at Crosswinds! We will probably meet in the health/cooking room (first floor, straight back, under the stairs).

EMID transportation survey for 622 parents

Shari Thompson of the EMID district office just sent this survey (PDF) to us. If you are a 622 family, please print it out, answer it, and return it by 10/20. Shari says:

We know that many of the EMID 622 families are rightfully concerned about transportation options beginning with the 2009-10 school year. EMID 6067 has been exploring the transportation alternatives for next year. We have been meeting with other member districts transportation personnel as well as other school transportation consultants to determine what options we may be able to provide. Part of this process includes conducting an updated transportation survey for our 622 families. The survey will be mailed out tomorrow and we are hoping to turn it around in fairly short order requesting that the completed form be returned to us no later than October 20, 2008. We are enclosing self-addressed stamped envelopes and will also have a drop off box located in each of the school offices during conferences. We will be sending a Parentlink call out to these families tomorrow notifying them that the survey is coming. A copy of the survey will also be under the current news section of each of the EMID Schools website. It will also be posted on the EMID website under “For ISD 622 families which is located under the “About EMID” tab.

EMID 6067will provide information to our families regarding the ISD 622 transition as quickly as it becomes available.

Meet Lisa Zufall, candidate for 622 school board

Parents attending a small group meeting of EMID Families at Crosswinds last week had a chance to meet Lisa Zufall of Oakdale, who is running for a seat on the District 622 School Board next month.

Zufall is a web manager in the private sector, a 622 parent (whose child attended Crosswinds School three years ago), a former PTA president at Hayden Heights Elementary School in St. Paul and – most of all – is a dedicated citizen who wants to improve the education of all students in 622 schools.

In response to our request for a self-introduction to EMIDfamilies.org, Lisa sent the following statement. You can learn more about Lisa at her website, www.zoofs.net.

Thank you for asking me to introduce myself. To be brief, I am a mother and a taxpaying member of the community who wants to work toward improving our school district through establishing a partnership with the community and making education a Number One priority by aligning spending with education.

I do not profess to know it all. But I do know and I believe that the 622 School Board has strayed from the foundation for which it was created. From the $10 million dollar budget cuts a couple of years ago, to the decision to pull out of the EMID 6067 School District, I have been inspired to get involved and work toward making a real difference in our schools.

I have set up a website (www.zoofs.net) to further introduce myself to you, and to explain why I’m running for District 622 School Board. Please take a look. If you are ready for a positive change in District 622, I ask for your vote on November 4.

Together, we will be heard! And we will make a difference! Thank you.

Status of transportation for 622 families

Following up on our EMID Families group meeting last Wednesday, Jeff Syme traded email with Dr. Carl Wahlstrom this week to learn more about the status of transportation (for Dist. 622 families) and about open enrollment. As Eric reported last week, 622 families will have full transportation service through the 2008-2009 school year. For 2009-2010, Dr. Wahlstrom said several options are being studied, and more information will be released in a few weeks about transportation and about open enrollment. A second parent survey for 622 families will be handed out during conferences next week, which will help frame the decisions moving forward. At this time, it seems the best we can do is to be patient for a few more weeks.

Here are the essential parts of Dr. Wahlstrom’s email to Jeff:

“We are working on many of the matters mentioned in your message and hope to have information available soon. I know that we plan to have another survey ready for 622 families during conference time next week. We have also visited with several transportation providers from our member Districts to explore options. In addition, we have a meeting set with St. Paul transportation personnel to explore, among others, the option you suggested. [That is, accessing St. Paul bus routes.] We will do our best to keep 622 families informed as the transportation issues for next year are resolved. We are happy to meet with you at any time, but it might be best to wait a couple of weeks until we have the updated survey information and transportation alternatives identified. Thanks again for your continued interest and your willingness to be of service to our families. We promise to stay in touch on these matters.”

Let’s all plan to keep one another informed if and when we hear more information about all these things.