Public Hearing on Crosswinds, 2/23

The Crosswinds Task Force of the Perpich Board of Directors will hold a public hearing at 7pm Thursday, 23 February, at Crosswinds Arts & Science School, 600 Weir Dr., Woodbury.

The hearing is open to the public and is for the purpose of taking public comment on future alternatives for the operation of the school.

Crosswinds is a public integration magnet serving St. Paul and the east suburbs with a focus on arts and environmental science. It was created in 1997 by the East Metro Integration District (EMID), now known as Equity Alliance MN. After EMID announced plans to possibly close the school, Perpich Center offered to take over its management and the state legislature conveyed the school to Perpich in 2014.

Crosswinds Bill Passes Senate E12 Division, 3/18

This morning SF530, the bill conveying Crosswinds to Perpich, was the first item on the agenda of the E12 Division of the Senate Finance Committee. The bill was presented by its author, Sen. Dahle, and amended to take care of some finance and transportation issues. Great news: the bill made it over this very important hurdle!

Tom Melcher, of the Minnesota Department of Education, explained that one of the amendments just ensured that districts whose students attend Crosswinds did not get to charge the state for their “declining enrollment” in these cases. This effectively makes the future under Perpich similar to the past under EMID, when districts could also not make such charges to the state. With regard to transportation, the new language clarifies that Perpich will be able to seek integration funding for transportation as long as it files integration plans with MDE, again similar to the transportation situation under EMID. Though the final “fiscal note” was not yet complete, Melcher anticipated that it would show SF530 provides a net benefit to the state, rather than a net cost.

Testimony proceeded from Dr. Jean Lubke (Executive Director of EMID), Kitty Gogins (Chair of the EMID Board), Sue Mackert (Executive Director of Perpich), Dr. Carla Hines (Principal at Crosswinds), Kai’li Taylor (Crosswinds 9th grader), Eric Celeste (former Crosswinds parent), and Mike Boguszewski (former Crosswinds parent). Many other parents and students surrounded the final three testifiers to show the committee the strength of our support, and written testimony was also provided from many of you.

With very little discussion, the E12 Division voted to “lay over” the bill with Chair Wiger for inclusion in the Senate Finance omnibus. This is very good news. Sen. Wiger gave a supportive little talk after the vote. This leaves the future of SF530 very much in his hands and the hands of the Senate Finance Chair, Sen. Dick Cohen. Of course, this is the legislature, so other complications may arise.

Thank you to all of you who have helped us get so far on this road. Today was a big step, only possible due to your actions over the past few years. At this point we need to thank our supporters, please help us by sending kind notes to:

And you may also want to send a note asking for support for SF530 from Sen. Dick Cohen as Chair of the Senate Finance committee.

A Big Week for Crosswinds!

Next week will be a big week for Crosswinds, there are three events that are very important for our community and we hope you can join us at as many as possible!

Tuesday, 7/9: House Education Policy Hearing at 11am.

The House Education Policy Committee will hold a hearing at Crosswinds about integration policy for Minnesota from 11am-2pm on Tuesday. This will be a chance for this committee to hear about the successes and failures of integration policy here in EMID and at Crosswinds. It is very unusual for a legislative committee to meet like this outside the legislative session and we are incredibly privileged that Chair Carlos Mariani has decided to make Crosswinds the venue for this important hearing. Testimony will include U of M law professor Myron Orfield, former EMID board chair Bruce Hagerty, our own Bryan Bass, and many others including students, parents, and teachers.

Wednesday, 7/10: Special EMID Board Meeting to consider Crosswinds at 5:30pm.

The EMID Board will hold a special July board meeting on Wednesday to consider a proposal from the Perpich Center for Arts Education to manage the Crosswinds program next school year. This would require that the EMID Board leave Crosswinds open, as they decided to do for Harambee, and contract with Perpich to run the school, similar to the contract they agreed to a few weeks ago for Roseville to run Harambee. This is a last chance to keep Crosswinds open next year. The board will have a work session at 5:30pm and start its regular meeting at 6:30pm. Public testimony is welcome at the start of the regular board meeting.

Thursday, 7/11: Crosswinds Carnival!

The Crosswinds Carnival will be a great chance to spend time with the whole Crosswinds community on Thursday! For students the fun will start at 2pm, but everyone is welcome to join in after school from 4-7pm. Please make sure your student has a signed permission slip allowing them to stay after school that afternoon if you plan to join us or to pick them up later.

EMID Superintendent Resigning

The EMID Board meets again on Wednesday 6/19, 5:30pm at Harambee.

The packet for next week’s EMID Board meeting held a surprise for those reading closely: EMID Superintendent Janet Mohr is leaving us to become the Executive Director of the Board of School Administrators on 8/1. Even though she will have served for less than 18 months, she is actually the longest serving superintendent EMID has had since Carl Wahlstrom left the position in the summer of 2010. Since then we had Brenda Cassellius for six months, Jerry Robicheau as an interim for one year, and now Jan is leaving after a brief stay. This highlights the chaotic nature of EMID governance, if nothing else (note WMEP has been in the news lately as well). More about Jan’s departure can be read on page 38 of the packet.

The EMID board plans to consider Roseville’s proposal for Harambee at the meeting next week. However, the agenda does not include a discussion of Crosswinds and Perpich. Instead, the board plans (see page 41 of the packet) a “special board meeting” on 7/10. This special meeting will include consideration to amend the resolution closing Crosswinds and consideration of a management agreement for Crosswinds.

If you have not already done so, please sign our EMID Families petition asking the board to allow Crosswinds to stay open under Perpich leadership next year!

This means the week after July 4th will be a very busy week for Crosswinds. We are anticipating a hearing of the House Education Policy Committee on 7/9, a meeting of the board on 7/10, and the Crosswinds carnival on 7/11. Stay tuned!

Legislators push for Crosswinds at unprecedented board meeting

Last night’s EMID board meeting at Harambee was an amazing experience for those who were there to see it. In addition to an hour of family testimony, five legislators spent well over an hour sharing their perspective on the legislative session and the options for next steps with the EMID board.

Many family members testified about the lessons they learned during the session. These included the fact that we learned the buildings were bonded to host integration magnet schools, that the legislature must approve conveyance to any other party by a 60% vote, that Minnesota supports integration in the form of a renewed integration plan, that hidden processes impede democracy, that we can talk to our elected officials, and that families will not give up their efforts to save our schools. The final testimony was the reading of a letter from Dan Shulman, lead attorney in the lawsuits that led to the creation of integration districts in the 1990’s, stressing that Minnesota law still demanded integrated education and the actions of the EMID board might put everyone back in court once again.

Superintendent Thein of Roseville assured the EMID board that with their support Roseville would make sure Harambee opened in September to welcome students back. The EMID board voted to support the efforts of Roseville and there was a lot of confidence that, one way or another, Harambee would remain open.

Representatives Peter Fischer (Roseville), JoAnn Ward (Woodbury), Jason Isaacson (Vadnais Heights), Carlos Mariani (Saint Paul), and Senator John Marty (Roseville) shared their view of the session with the board. Rep. Isaacson said, “taking care of Crosswinds School died in the Senate… just so we are clear about this it was attempted in several times in several ways and it didn’t go through… I’m going to tell you what’s not going to happen: South Washington will not receive that school, period… we have the backing of the Speaker on that.” Rep. Mariani connected the situation at EMID with the wider support of integration exemplified by the new integration legislation. Sen. Marty asked for all the parties to work together to find a solution for Crosswinds. Rep. Fischer described the lengths the House had gone to in negotiating with the Senate, sharing the accountability language and a whole set of questions he’d like to see answered. Rep. Ward spoke from her work in education about the importance of a variety of schools for diverse students and families. All of the legislators very firmly asked the board to find a way to keep Crosswinds open for the 13-14 school year.

The clear, consistent message from these five legislators was that the board should do for Crosswinds/Perpich what they were clearly so willing to do for Harambee/Roseville.

Rep. Mariani also told the board he planned to hold a hearing of his House Education Policy Committee at Crosswinds in July (probably on 7/9). In many ways, this meeting felt like a preview of that hearing, though with the roles of board and legislators reversed.

The board did finally make a “consensus” decision to allow Superintendent Mohr to investigate with Perpich and MDE the feasibility of running the Crosswinds program next year. If this looks possible, the board will hold a work session on 6/12 to learn the details of the proposal.

Some (poor quality) audio recordings of the meeting are available. Part One includes the families testimony and the description of Roseville’s efforts on behalf of Harmabee. Part Two includes the exchange of the legislators with the board.

A video of the discussion between legislators and the board is also now available.

Hearing for Crosswinds on Friday at 12:30pm

Yesterday the Perpich-Crosswinds bill in the House (HF592) was passed out of the House Education Finance Committee and referred on to Government Operations. The hearing at the House Government Operations Committee will be at 12:30pm on Friday (3/15) in the Basement Hearing Room of the State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Saint Paul, MN.

While spoken testimony will be limited to the presenters of the bill, written testimony is welcome from all. We will compile a packet of written testimony for the committee (and future committees). Please send your written testimony to testimony@emidfamilies.org by Noon Thursday (3/14, tomorrow!).

If you prefer to send emails to committee members, there addresses can be found on the Government Operations Committee page.

Also remember that we are still awaiting our first hearing in the Senate. We still need letters and calls to go to Sen. Torres Ray (651-296-4274) who is refusing to hear SF530 in her Senate Education Committee. Please ask for a prompt hearing in the Senate, time is running short!

Share written testimony with the House Education Finance Committee

There has been a slight room change for those planning to attend the Perpich-Crosswinds HF592 hearing next Tuesday, see below. But whether you can be present to support Crosswinds or not, you may want to submit written testimony to the committee about your experience of Crosswinds and your reasons for believing that Perpich governing Crosswinds is a good idea for Minnesota. Feel free to reference our talking points, if you need some ideas.

If you would like to share written testimony, it needs to be sent to the committee administrator, Shannon Patrick. Please get your written testimony to her by Monday, 3/11, at Noon so she can put it together into a packet for committee members.

Please include “Testimony for HF592” in your subject heading and send your testimony to shannon.patrick@house.mn.

Feel free to send a copy to info@emidfamilies.org and we will include it as a comment on the website so it can inspire others.

For those of you planning to attend the hearing, please note the slight room change. The Perpich-Crosswinds bill, HF592, will have its first hearing in the House Education Finance Committee on Tuesday (3/12) at 8:15am. This hearing will be in the Basement Hearing Room of the State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Saint Paul, MN.

Crosswinds gets a hearing in the House

The Perpich-Crosswinds bill, HF592, will have its first hearing in the House Education Finance Committee on Tuesday (3/12) at 8:15am. This hearing will be in the Basement Hearing Room of the State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Saint Paul, MN.

Leaders from Perpich and EMID Families are planning to testify, and anyone else is also welcome to send a letter of testimony to the committee or ask to testify in person. Even if you don’t testify, though, it can be very important to show support by being present at the hearing if you can be.

Meanwhile, the bill is stalled in the Senate, where Sen. Torres Ray has so far refused to schedule a hearing in the Senate Education Committee. Please check out the latest details on our website and contact Sen. Torres Ray asking that SF530 be given a prompt hearing.