EMID board votes for Perpich and Roseville plans

The EMID board voted to close Harambee and Crosswinds tonight. EMID will not be running schools next year. They also voted to accept the Roseville proposal to take over Hararmbee. The real question was, what would they do with Crosswinds.

The EMID board tonight voted to give the Perpich Center for Arts Education until April 1 to get the authority and funding it needs to run Crosswinds. If Perpich fails to get that authority and funding by April 1, the building will go to South Washington County.

This makes the legislative task for Perpich enormous. Perpich will have to seek a separate bill and early action by the Minnesota legislature. By forcing this to be an early vote, they have made this a very difficult task. Difficult, but not necessarily impossible.

Step by step.

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Come to the EMID Board Meeting, Wednesday 1/23

This is it. Since August 2011 we have been doing all we can do to see that our schools can keep doing the wonderful work they do. Over two years have gone into saving our schools, and the EMID board meeting tomorrow will decide their fate. Whether or not you have something you want to say to the board, just being present to witness the board action will send a message. Please come to the meeting tomorrow. The EMID board meeting will be at Harambee, Wednesday 1/23, 5:30pm. Childcare will be provided.

The big question of the meeting is whether the EMID board will allow Crosswinds a chance of holding together its program as part of the Perpich Center for Arts Education.

If you do want to testify, the public forum will begin at 5:30pm. Some of us will gather early, starting at 4:30pm, to share ideas and feedback on our planned testimony. Feel free to come early if you would like to get feedback yourself.

We are expecting that there may be media at the meeting tomorrow. The Pioneer Press, Star Tribune, and Bulletin have all been covering the story. Meanwhile integration has also been in the news, putting our board’s action even more in the public eye.

If EMID does allow the Perpich proposal to move forward, then our attention turns to the Minnesota Legislature. Stay tuned!

Star Tribune: Fate of Crosswinds Arts and Science School in Woodbury may lie with Perpich Center

Tony Lonetree writes in the Star Tribune: Fate of Crosswinds Arts and Science School in Woodbury may lie with Perpich Center. This article focusses more on the money and includes quotes from Perpich, our board, parents, and administration. The article ends with a not-quite-quote from Jim Gelbmann:

Wearing multiple hats in the situation is Jim Gelbmann, a South Washington County board member who also is an appointee to the EMID board.

The Perpich Center proposal has gained strength, he said, primarily as result of the hearing earlier this month. But he and a couple of EMID colleagues are concerned, he said, about the center’s ability to raise $2.5 million to $3 million as state leaders grapple with a $1.1 billion deficit.

Crosswinds, he said this month, is an expensive program, but an effective one for some students.

It’s likely, he said, that those students would not have succeeded if not for Crosswinds.

Pioneer Press: Crosswinds school will know its fate soon

Christopher Magan wrote a story for the Pioneer Press: Crosswinds school will know its fate soon. It is a terrific summary of the current situation and the decision the board faces this coming week.

“Certainly for families, this was a light we were excited to see shine,” Crosswinds Principal Bryan Bass said of Perpich’s proposal. “These parents searched for a place to call home. and to hear and know it could be in jeopardy is an awful feeling.”

Crosswinds families have coalesced behind the Perpich proposal, but it is far from a sure thing. They need to persuade lawmakers to give Perpich the authority to govern their school, then designate a source of money to operate it.

The story also includes some wonderful pictures like this one!

Bulletin: Curriculum key for Crosswinds backers

Amber Kispert-Smith writes in the Woodbury Bulletin: Curriculum key for Crosswinds backers. The article describes the hearing at Crosswinds and the choice facing the EMID Board.

The EMID School will review proposals during its Jan. 16 meeting before making a final decision at its Jan. 23 meeting.

“I do not envy you at all,” said Crosswinds special education teacher Jeff Parker. “I’m not here to change your mind, but I am going to push on your mindset – it’s not wise to spend energy fighting the change, but it is wise to spend energy shaping that change.

“I don’t believe that school closure is a term that I want to hear anymore because that is a mindset of decay; I want to shift our mindset to a more preservation mindset – turn away from closing and turn toward preserving the program. I don’t believe this is the end, it does not need to be the end.”

Transcript of Crosswinds Hearing

A number of you have been awaiting the transcript of the public hearing last week at Crosswinds and Harambee. EMID just put the Crosswinds transcript on their website (PDF).

Hearing Re The Proposed Closing of Crosswinds Arts & Science School, Public

Contents:

  • George Hoeppner Opens the meeting / 5
  • Shari Thompson presentation / 6
  • Jan Mohr presentation / 17
  • Dan Larson, parent / 21
  • Fred LeBlanc, parent / 23
  • Abby LeBlanc, student / 25
  • Kim Zaiman, parent / 26
  • Kathy Romero, teacher / 28
  • Jonah and Dalton Thomas, former students / 31
  • Leslye Taylor, parent / 34
  • Laurel LeBlanc, parent / 35
  • Ihsan Ingersoll, student / 37
  • Holly Ingersoll, parent / 38
  • Dave Bishop, parent / 41
  • Jeff Parker, teacher / 43
  • Bev Sellie, parent / 45
  • Kayleigh Schlenker, student / 47
  • Tim Stepan, teacher, union president / 49
  • Dan Stein, student / 52
  • Josh Kenow, student / 53
  • Casey Markovich, student / 54
  • Jill Markovich, parent / 54
  • Zander Danielson Sellie, former student / 56
  • Cornelius Rish, teacher / 59
  • Savannah Taylor, student / 61
  • Kelly DeBrine, parent / 63
  • Eric Celeste, parent / 64
  • Mike Boguszewski, parent / 68
  • Leah Bourg, teacher / 71
  • Amanda Hoffman and Madison Linke, students / 73
  • Susan Larson, parent / 76
  • Denise Dzik, teacher / 77
  • Rose Vang, student / 80
  • Anna Barker, teacher / 81
  • Shannon Hannigan, parent / 83
  • Tami Bayne-Kuczmarski, parent / 85
  • Yolanda Rivera, parent / 87
  • Jan Mohr, proposed findings / 88

EMID Board Discusses Perpich Option

Tonight the EMID Board spent most of it’s discussion time talking about the option to have the Perpich Center for Arts Education take over governance of Crosswinds. The board also heard briefly from the two other interested entities: South Washington County Schools (ISD 833) and Northeast Metro (ISD 916).

Once again, Perpich was the only one of the three enthusiastically embracing the July 2013 deadline originally proposed by the board. Perpich wants to take over Crosswinds starting next school year, keeping most of the program and staff intact. 916 said that they would certainly not continue the current Crosswinds program and would also not be ready to move into the building this fall. South Washington still prefers to have more planning time, but said that the would “do our darndest” to open the building in the fall if they were given clear indication that it was theirs by April 1st.

The board spent quite a bit of time interviewing Perpich Executive Director Sue Mackert about Perpich’s intentions and the legislative process Perpich must go through to acquire the authority and funding it needs to proceed. Mackert said that Perpich had already made appointments with various state agencies and was ready to contact legislators on January 24 if the EMID board decides to give Perpich that chance next Wednesday.

Superintendent Mohr described an option to give Perpich the first go at governance of Crosswinds while also giving South Washington an option to govern should Perpich not get legislative support. This would mean that the EMID board would not have to vote again to transfer governance to South Washington if Perpich runs into a road block at the Capitol.

However, some board members were hesitant about the risks involved in that plan. They noted that the legislative process might scuttle the Perpich proposal as late as May or June, well after South Washington’s April 1st deadline for planning anything for the 2013/2014 school year. This might leave EMID in the position of owning the Crosswinds building without any program to put in it since the school would already be closed. Mackert pointed out that she would probably get some early indications of such a failure at the legislature and would be very open about sharing the state of affairs with EMID and South Washington. She thought Perpich should have a pretty good read on the legislative progress by the end of March.

The board will move this matter to a vote at next week’s EMID board meeting, Wednesday 1/23, 5:30pm at Harambee. The public forum at the start of that meeting will be the last chance to be heard on this matter, so please come to the meeting and share what you have to say with the board.

We have video of key portions of this meeting (just click on “next” to see more videos below).

We also audio recorded this evening’s meeting, available as this MP3 file. Highlights include:

  • 00:18:00 Jim Gelbmann asks what would happen to Crosswinds if the board conveys the building to Perpich and Perpich fails to get authority and funding.
  • 00:42:45 to 01:05:00 an extended Q&A with Sue Mackert of Perpich.
  • 01:54:00 to 01:10:15 a brief set of questions for the 916 representative.
  • 01:10:30 to 01:13:30 a brief exchange with the 833 representative.
  • 01:15:00 a discussion of the risks of the Perpich proposal.

EMID Board receives two new proposals for Crosswinds

Last night the EMID Board spent nearly its whole meeting considering proposals for the future of Crosswinds. They heard again from District 833 (South Washington County) as well as hearing new proposals from District 916 (Northeast Metro) and the Perpich Center for Arts Education. The most exciting proposal of the evening was Perpich, so be sure to read more about that below. Superintendent Jan Mohr also shared a “school closing rating scale” to be used to judge the various proposals. It asked that each of these criteria be judged on a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (highly satisfied):

  • Proposal represents a political subdivision and meets MMB statues.
  • Proposal is not a legal or financial risk to EMID.
  • Proposal accounts for staff and employees in a responsible manner with consideration to contracts and statue.
  • Proposal’s impact on change to current students and families.
  • Proposal’s timeline for transfer of governance.
  • Proposal aligns to vision of EMID.

Superintendent Keith Jacobus returned from District 833 (South Washington County) without any new details for the 833 proposal from last month. He did stress that it was now clear that District 833 could not commit to the “program” of Crosswinds. In other words, while aspects of what Crosswinds does, like year-round education, IB curriculum, arts and science focus, were attractive to South Washington County, these elements, if continued at all, would probably be parceled out among other schools in the district. There would be “no Crosswinds as a school” that holds all of this program together. In other words, 833 is mostly interested in Crosswinds as a building to fill with whatever program it most needs to meet demographic demands. Jacobus also stressed that 833 would be much more comfortable receiving the building in 2014 than 2013, which is when the EMID Board was hoping to hand off the school.

Superintendent Connie Hayes of Northeast Metro 916 Intermediate School District, brought the 916 proposal for governance of Crosswinds before the board (more details in Northeast Metro 916 makes a proposal for Crosswinds). This proposal did not even anticipate using the whole building. 916 would only be able to use half the building and even that they would need to gut and renovate to meet their needs. Given the amount of investigation that needed to go into determining the feasibility of such a renovation and the engagement of a partner for the other half of the building, Hayes also said that 916 would not be able to take control of Crosswinds in 2013 and suggested 2014 as a more reasonable handoff.

The final proposal of the evening came from a team representing the Perpich Center for Arts Education. Pam Paulson, Carlondrea Hines, and Debra Kelley presented Perpich’s proposal to take over Crosswinds to the board. More details are in Perpich Center for Arts Education makes a proposal for Crosswinds and some wonderful insight into the synergy between Perpich and Crosswinds can be found in this public testimony by Dan Larson. Perpich proposes to take on governance of Crosswinds with much of the program, teaching, and student body as it is. They see a great deal of common ground between the Crosswinds mission and methods as they have been, and the goals of the Perpich Center. Some big questions remain (getting approval and funding from the legislature and planning for transportation, for example), it was clear that Perpich is eager and ready to launch an aggressive process to make a takeover possible in 2013. In fact, when repeatedly asked whether a 2014 handoff would be better, the Perpich team responded that they preferred to move fast and accomplish this transition on the original timeline proposed by the EMID Board. If funding realities or EMID made a 2014 transfer necessary, they assured the board that could work as well.

After hearing these proposals, Jim Gelbmann, the EMID Board member from South Washington County, proposed that the EMID Board immediately vote to delay the transfer of Crosswinds to any outside entity until 2014. He felt that by stating immediately that Crosswinds would remain under EMID governance next year the board would be providing assurance to parents and staff that they could count on one more year of stability at Crosswinds. No mention was made of how unstable such “stability” would feel given that two of the three proposals being considered would end the school as we know it. However, the board was reluctant to consider such a drastic change without public input and more chance to understand the impact. After some discussion, Gelbmann withdrew his proposal.

We now have a little breathing space for the holidays, but January will be an extremely busy month. Perpich will be moving to flesh out its plans with meetings with administration, staff, families, legislators, and even the Governor, so keep your eyes peeled for opportunities on that front. But EMID also has to begin to touch some statutory bases in order to make a 2013 handoff of Harambee to Roseville and Crosswinds to whoever possible. This includes:

  • 9 January, a public hearing on the necessity and practicability of closing Crosswinds School.
  • 10 January, a public hearing on the necessity and practicability of closing Harambee School.
  • 23 January, the EMID Board meeting at which they will take action on closing the schools or transferring governance to another body.
  • 23 January, if necessary, begin action to transfer title of the buildings to third parties.
  • 20 February, if EMID ceases school operations at end of 2012/2013, this is the date by which the EMID Board has to officially notify employees.
  • In March EMID has to take further actions with all teachers with regard to withdrawal and termini nation and tenure.

The language above is pretty scary, with all the talk of “closing.” Clearly EMID is doing what it can to hand off the schools and the situation with Harambee is pretty clear (it will be going to Roseville, more or less intact). But from the state’s perspective even this sort of “transfer” or “withdrawal” is the same as a “closure” with regard to EMID. EMID is getting out of the business of schools. Look for more details about these dates as they approach.

Northeast Metro 916 makes a proposal for Crosswinds

Connie Hayes, Superintendent of Northeast Metro 916 Intermediate School District, brought the 916 proposal for governance of Crosswinds to the EMID Board at last night’s meeting. She had visited the building this month and found:

The design of Crosswinds is very unique and interesting. It seems to be a great design for the program for which it was initially intended. The design does, however, create some significant challenges for the population which we would bring to the school.

In fact, she went on to describe that in order to use the building 916 would essentially have to gut the interior and build a much more traditional facility inside the shell of Crosswinds. In fact, 916 really can’t use more than half the space and would have to seek a partner to use the other half of the building. They even considered building a separate building in the Crosswinds “backyard” but found that building on the wetlands is likely prohibited.

Hayes made if very clear that 916 had no intention of maintaining any of Crosswinds’ program. Their only interest is in the building, and even that interest is contingent on the feasibility of renovating the interior. A study to determine that feasibility would likely take a while, so they also were not really interested in taking over the building until 2014.

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.