Letter: Non-planning for schools angers

To the editor:

East Side residents have always been strong advocates of neighborhood schools, so the new school district plan for Strong Schools, Strong Communities seems welcome.

It raises a question, however, about the St. Paul School Board's long term commitment to strong neighborhood schools.

Just last year the board closed a whole series of neighborhood schools on the East Side. Included among a series of East Side schools was Prosperity Elementary where almost every child walked to school. So . . . where was the St. Paul School Board's commitment to neighborhood schools last year, and it raises a very serious question about the School Board's consistency in providing policy direction for the district.

Yes, it was past time to examine the magnet school programs. A whole series of magnets were created in 1985 when the school district was mandated by the state to have no more than 48 percent minority enrollment in any one school (no more than 15 percent above the districtwide average of 33 percent minority enrollment). Now the districtwide average is about 74 percent minority, and so the plans developed in 1985 were indeed outdated.

Again, the lack of consistent policy direction by the School Board is evident, however. A few years ago French Immersion School was moved to the East Side over the objections of that school community. Now another move for the school is being proposed.

Successful magnet programs that are to continue cannot be moved every couple of years if they are to remain effective.

The lack of consistent policy guidance from the existing St. Paul School Board makes me as one East Side resident very angry.

Al Oertwig
former member and chair,

St. Paul School Board

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