Minneapolis public schools: Transitioning for 2010-2011


A team of staff, community liaisons and parents from the District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) has been working to ensure that implementing the Changing School Options (CSO) plan is a success. This team is led by Jackie Turner, Executive Director of Family Engagement, and Courtney Cushing-Kiernat (ECCO resident), Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) parent and CSO Transition Consultant.

From the beginning, the focus of the Transition Team has been to develop specific transition plans for individual schools in collaboration with school leadership teams made up of parents, the principal and staff.  In these discussions school teams were asked about specific school transition hot spots and discussed the tools necessary to make a smooth transition.  Marketing, merging diverse communities, communication with students, processing grief for a closing school community, hiring policies for teachers and assisting out of area families with possible changes were some of the issues identified.  From these discussions, written plans were prepared for the most impacted schools.  

The team is currently focused on distributing letters to all MPS families informing them of their student’s school choice options for the 2010-2011 school year.  

Changing School Options creates three regional zones for transportation.  The southwest area of Minneapolis is in zone 3.  (Maps are available on the MPS website under “Transitioning for 2010-11”).With the exception of a few citywide options, students will attend an elementary, middle and high school in their zone.  This three zone transportation model reduces transportation costs, retains choice for families since each one offers at least three magnet options in addition to a community school and allows students to attend schools closer to home.  

Each zone will offer K-8 students access to the following magnet programs:  International Baccalaureate (IB); Teaching philosophy:  Open or Montessori; Spanish Dual Immersion; Curricular:  Arts and Science.  Each zone will offer 9-12 students access to comprehensive high school programming. Southwest and Washburn are the community highs schools for zone 3.

Families with children enrolled in a citywide special education or English Language Learner program will continue to receive transportation across zones.  Based on the state’s open enrollment law, families still have the option to enroll at any school in the city provided there is space available and they provide their own transportation.  Students currently attending magnet, middle or high schools outside of their home attendance area or zone will have the option of grandfathering, or being guaranteed a seat in their current school, but must provide their own transportation.  
For more information:  Transitions office – 612.668.0478; Zone 3 parent contacts:  Seth Kirk sethkirk@comcast.net, DPAC Area C Chair, Rebecca Gagnon, gagnonrw@hotmail.com, Julie Millikan, Julie.g.millikan@gmail.com and Zone 3 community liaison, GaelEllis, Gael.Ellis@mpls.k12.mn.us.

Each month parents of all Zone 3 schools are invited to attend the Zone 3 (Area C) Parent Advisory Council Meeting.  These meetings are held to share current information about District issues and policies as well as collect ideas and concerns from parents to take to the District at DPAC meetings.  Meeting dates are on your school’s website under Area C Meetings.

MPS will implement a full-scale transition plan over the next year to ensure the changes go as smoothly as possible for students, families and staff.  

Gael Ellis is an ECCO resident and Area C/Zone 3 Community Liaison