Parents prevail: Minneapolis school district drops plans to move Marcy

The Marcy Open School program will not be moving to a new building for the 2014-2015 school year, according to a letter posted on the Marcy website on Friday, November 8, by Minneapolis Public Schools Associate Superintendent Michael Thomas.

While the letter acknowledges an expected increase of 700 students in areas of northeast Minneapolis, it states definitively that Thomas is “no longer recommending that Marcy Open be moved to any other location at this time.”

Thomas’s letter comes on the heels of a contentious meeting at Marcy on November 6, where he addressed a packed room of parents and community members. At the meeting, Thomas stated that the idea to move Marcy, which many in the room seemed vehemently opposed to, came from representatives of the newly formed Downtown School Initiative group, which is seeking a path to a neighborhood school for downtown families.

However, Eric Lasko, who heads up this group, said on November 8 that his group never expressed direct interest in the Marcy building, and never asked that the Marcy program be moved to make way for a new community school. Instead, Lasko said that the Downtown School Initiative group met with two district officials, including LeAnn Dow, and school board member Josh Reimnitz on October 28.  Lasko says that at this meeting, it was the district representatives who proposed the Marcy building as a potential home for a new community school, as one of several options to be considered.

LeAnn Dow confirmed this version of events. In an email, she said that, in a later meeting with the district’s enrollment planning team, led by Minneapolis Public Schools CEO Michael Goar, the group “engaged in dialogue around moving the Marcy Open program to the Sheridan building.” Based on Thomas’s statements at the November 6 meeting, this idea was discussed among district officials for two weeks before it was brought to the Marcy community for consideration.

Lasko, of the Downtown School Initiative group, maintains that his group’s focus is on making the emerging neighborhoods of downtown, such as the North Loop and Elliott Park, seen as viable communities who would like to send their children to a convenient, accessible neighborhood school. Lasko also mentioned that his group will soon meet with representatives of the Marcy Open School community in order to collaborate on possible solutions.

The needs of the downtown parents may be part of what Thomas has called the “good challenge” of Minneapolis Public School’s growing enrollment numbers. How this group’s needs will be met remains to be seen, but, for now, it will not include the Marcy Open School program being moved to a new building.

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Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. Reporting for this article also supported in part by Bush Foundation.

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Sarah Lahm

Sarah Lahm (sarah dot lahm at gmail dot com) is a writer, blogger, and former English Instructor, and has children in the Minneapolis Public Schools.