A very busy EMID week

As our kids enjoy the last pre-vacation week of classes, a lot of EMID business is being done across three school districts. This is just a heads up about the meetings this week, with hopes that you can find time this busy week to make your presence felt.

Both Roseville and South Washington County continue to press their proposals to take over Harambee and Crosswinds. South Washington County will present a revised proposal at the EMID board meeting this week (board packet, work session agenda). We also expect proposals from the Perpich Center for Arts Education and District 916. It will be very interesting to see what new players bring to the table. Also, this week the Stillwater Area Schools (ISD 834) are presenting a request to withdraw from the EMID collaborative altogether. The EMID board meets Wednesday (12/19) at Harambee, their work session starts at 5pm and the regular meeting starts at 6pm.

Roseville’s plan met with general approval from the board and families last month. Though the Roseville agenda does not include any mention of EMID, they do have an update from their Equity and Integration Advisory Committee which may touch on Harambee. Roseville board meets Tuesday (12/18), 6:30pm, at the District Center located at 1251 County Road B2 West.

South Washington County has formed a task force to clarify its plans for Crosswinds. The South Washington agenda does not have any Crosswinds items on it, but if you live in that district it would be very helpful to monitor this meeting anyway. The South Washington board meets Thursday (12/20), 7pm, at their District Service Center in Cottage Grove.

Superintendent Mohr Recaps Progress on Harambee and Crosswinds

Superintendent Janet Mohr joined the Crosswinds Community Partnership for an update on plans for EMID schools last night (3 December 2012). Recapping the EMID Board meeting last week she described the Roseville (ISD 623) plans for taking over Harambee on 1 July 2013 and South Washington County (ISD 833) efforts to clarify their intentions. Both plans can be found in the EMID Board packet from last week.

Roseville’s plan for a “seamless transition” of Harambee to their district was well received by the EMID Board. They intend to keep as much of the program intact as possible, including welcoming as many current teachers, staff, and administrators as possible to stay. This is not a guarantee that everyone would have jobs in the new “Harambee Community School,” but it was quite encouraging. Since the takeover would technically be a “withdrawal” of EMID member districts from Harambee, staff of the school would have an option of pursuing positions at any of the eight districts withdrawing students. However, Roseville also plans to “grandmother” existing Harambee students into the school, allowing them to finish their education at Harambee if they wish. They are also working with the Minnesota Department of Education to arrange continuing transportation of these grandmothered kids to Harambee. As Mohr said, “the devil is in the details” and much has yet to be worked out, but in broad outline it appears that much of Harambee would remain as it is today.

The plan for Crosswinds submitted by South Washington County was significantly less fully formed. While ISD 833 is clearly interested in taking over the school, they did not make any commitments about what kind of program they would put in place at Crosswinds. They have formed a task force that includes one current Crosswinds parent, Kelly DeBrine, to rework that proposal. Mohr expects them to bring more details to the EMID Board meeting coming up on December 19. It was noted that South Washington is experiencing growth at the elementary and middle school level, but not yet at the high school level. These and other demographic realities of the district will have a bearing on the program they could support in Crosswinds.

The EMID Board also asked Superintendent Mohr to “open up” the Crosswinds process to organizations outside our member districts. Given technicalities of the ownership and allowed uses of the Crosswinds building, only public subdivisions of some sort may make proposals. Mohr said that these would include “intermediate school districts” and the Perpich Center for Arts Education. Some interest has been expressed by ISD 916 (the district from which Mohr came to EMID), but nobody had yet reached out to Perpich to let them know of the opportunity to make a proposal on December 19.

South Washington also asked the EMID Board to continue their governance of Crosswinds through the next school year (2013-2014) so that ISD 833 could have a full year to develop plans and prepare for a takeover. Mohr said that EMID administration has begun a study of the feasibility of sustaining the Crosswinds school under EMID governance for another year. This may well be possible, but again, things should be clearer by the December 19 board meeting.

Superintendent Mohr asked that families please contact her directly with any ideas or concerns. Plans are moving along swiftly and she would like to incorporate as much of our thinking as possible. She can be reached at 651-379-2701 and janet.mohr@emid6067.net.

Also, some video from the November board meeting is available at Vimeo, with more to come later this week when we get our next block of free storage space.

UPDATE: Superintendent Mohr has just sent a letter that covers much of this territory.

Pioneer Press: East Metro Integration District schools: Harambee, Crosswinds face closing

Megan Boldt has a story in the Pioneer Press: “East Metro Integration District schools: Harambee, Crosswinds face closing“. She writes about the EMID Board’s efforts to divest itself of schools at the same time that a new DFL majority in the legislature takes on the challenge of future integration funding.

Now, the Roseville and South Washington County school districts want to take over Harambee and Crosswinds, respectively. The districts presented their proposals to the EMID board last week. Board members are expected to make a decision this month.

“We’re not happy about the situation,” said Eric Celeste, a St. Paul parent who has sent two children to EMID schools. “What’s important to us now is that as much of the programs of Harambee and Crosswinds as possible be preserved.

“We’re so focused on academics right now that we forget our schools are supposed to be creating better citizens. And integration does that.”

The article does a good job of laying out the complexity of the situation, including the financial constraints on EMID and the uncertainty of future state actions.

An encouraging quote from our own superintendent wraps up the story:

EMID Superintendent Janet Mohr said the district would keep families apprised of the process and new information as it arises.

“We will continue with our conviction to promptly communicate with our staff and families so they have the information they need to make the necessary decisions for themselves and their children.”

At least the tone of the conversation this year is quite different from last!

EMID Board Considers Plans from Roseville and South Washington Tonight

At tonight’s EMID Board meeting Superintendent Mohr will share plans from Roseville and South Washington County for the acquisition of Harambee and Crosswinds. The EMID Board meets at Harambee at 5:30pm tonight, Wednesday 11/28. Public input will be allowed during the open forum at the beginning of the meeting. The proposals from Roseville and South Washington County are available in the board packet.

Roseville proposes a takeover of Harambee that would leave most of Harambee’s program intact but drastically change the student body in coming years. The good news is that they hope to “grandmother” in existing students, but starting with the 2013-2014 Kindergarten class they would follow Roseville enrollment guidelines and only accept outside students as “open enrollment” students. They hope to operate the “Harambee Community School” as a year-round school with as much of the current staff in place as possible. They would ask the Minnesota Department of Education to continue funding of transportation for “grandmothered” students for as long as they are at Harambee.

South Washington County is considerably fuzzier in its proposal. They ask EMID to continue to govern Crosswinds through at least the 2013-2014 school year while they study the impact and options they have to integrate Crosswinds into their district. They make no commitments to continuing the programming present at Crosswinds in the 2014-2015 school year or beyond.

The EMID Board will hear these proposals tonight, but not make any decisions today. They are also considering adding a working session at 5pm on before their meeting on Wednesday 12/19 to further consider the proposals and their implications for the schools.

Is Harambee going to Roseville and Crosswinds to South Washington County?

Recent discussion by the board and a conversation with Superintendent Mohr at this week’s Crosswinds Community Partnership (CCP) meeting seem to indicate there is activity afoot to turn our school buildings over to local member districts: Harambee would go to Roseville and Crosswinds to South Washington County. The Superintendent encourages CCP parents to attend the school board meetings at Roseville and South Washington County in order to track developments there, since those boards would probably have a discussion of such a possibility before it is announced at the 11/28 EMID board meeting.

If you are a Roseville or South Washington County resident, you may have particular interest in getting to these local board meetings, but even if you are resident in other EMID districts, you would be welcome to attend these public meetings. There is no indication yet of what purpose Roseville or South Washington County have in mind for our buildings, so showing up, asking questions, and listening to the discussion could be very interesting.

Here is a schedule of November school board meetings at EMID, Roseville, and South Washington County.

  • Thursday 11/8, 6pm, South Washington County School Board, District Service Center, Cottage Grove. The agenda for this meeting does not list EMID as a topic, but it could come up in the workshop discussion.
  • Tuesday, 11/13, 6:30pm, Roseville School Board, District Center located at 1251 County Road B2 West. There is no agenda yet, but the agenda should be available soon from the sidebar on this page.
  • Tuesday, 11/20, 7pm, South Washington County School Board, District Service Center, Cottage Grove. There is no agenda yet, but the agenda should be here closer to the meeting date.
  • Wednesday, 11/28, 5:30pm, EMID Board at Harambee. No details yet, but the board packet should be here by the week before the meeting.

Remember, too, that you are always welcome to write EMID board members or EMID superintendents with any questions you may have.