Rumors have been flying this summer that Minneapolis school administrators will close North High School, in Minneapolis’ North Side neighborhood, sometime this coming year.
“North High School closing has not even appeared on the School Board’s agenda,” the Chair of the Minneapolis Board of Education, Lydia Lee, said flatly.
Superintendant Bill Green issued a statement saying, said the district is “committed to supporting North High and boosting its enrollment.”
The district’s administration team recognizes the importance of North High in the north Minneapolis community and the district as a whole. We value North High and continue to make strides toward creating the best possible learning atmosphere for our students. The school’s new leadership team and committed teachers are focused on rigor and elevated expectations for students.
“I’ve been hearing rumors every year for the last twenty years that Edison [High School] will be closed next year,” MPS media relations specialist Ross Bennett said. “All I can say right now is that the district has no plans [to close North High], and that the subject has not been discussed at any level” of school district administration.
When asked to speculate on events or policies that might have precipitated the rumor, Bennett said that “rumors always start when a school has declining enrollment, and the Minneapolis school district has had declining enrollment for many years.”
North High currently has one half the students it had in the mid-1990s. Because of this, one-half to one-third of the campus is not used, according to Lydia Lee. From 2001 to 2006, enrollment in Minneapolis Public Schools fell 23%, according to a 2006 independent demographic study commissioned by the Board.
Recent “fresh starts” at Edison and Washburn High Schools and other seemingly drastic steps taken by district officials may have added fuel to the idea that North would be next on the chopping block. At both Edison and Washburn, many teachers and administrative staff were fired in what Bennett described as a “last resort” to turn the schools around.
James Sanna is a freelance writer and an intern at the Daily Planet.