Last night the EMID Board spent nearly its whole meeting considering proposals for the future of Crosswinds. They heard again from District 833 (South Washington County) as well as hearing new proposals from District 916 (Northeast Metro) and the Perpich Center for Arts Education. The most exciting proposal of the evening was Perpich, so be sure to read more about that below. Superintendent Jan Mohr also shared a “school closing rating scale” to be used to judge the various proposals. It asked that each of these criteria be judged on a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (highly satisfied):
- Proposal represents a political subdivision and meets MMB statues.
- Proposal is not a legal or financial risk to EMID.
- Proposal accounts for staff and employees in a responsible manner with consideration to contracts and statue.
- Proposal’s impact on change to current students and families.
- Proposal’s timeline for transfer of governance.
- Proposal aligns to vision of EMID.
Superintendent Keith Jacobus returned from District 833 (South Washington County) without any new details for the 833 proposal from last month. He did stress that it was now clear that District 833 could not commit to the “program” of Crosswinds. In other words, while aspects of what Crosswinds does, like year-round education, IB curriculum, arts and science focus, were attractive to South Washington County, these elements, if continued at all, would probably be parceled out among other schools in the district. There would be “no Crosswinds as a school” that holds all of this program together. In other words, 833 is mostly interested in Crosswinds as a building to fill with whatever program it most needs to meet demographic demands. Jacobus also stressed that 833 would be much more comfortable receiving the building in 2014 than 2013, which is when the EMID Board was hoping to hand off the school.
Superintendent Connie Hayes of Northeast Metro 916 Intermediate School District, brought the 916 proposal for governance of Crosswinds before the board (more details in Northeast Metro 916 makes a proposal for Crosswinds). This proposal did not even anticipate using the whole building. 916 would only be able to use half the building and even that they would need to gut and renovate to meet their needs. Given the amount of investigation that needed to go into determining the feasibility of such a renovation and the engagement of a partner for the other half of the building, Hayes also said that 916 would not be able to take control of Crosswinds in 2013 and suggested 2014 as a more reasonable handoff.
The final proposal of the evening came from a team representing the Perpich Center for Arts Education. Pam Paulson, Carlondrea Hines, and Debra Kelley presented Perpich’s proposal to take over Crosswinds to the board. More details are in Perpich Center for Arts Education makes a proposal for Crosswinds and some wonderful insight into the synergy between Perpich and Crosswinds can be found in this public testimony by Dan Larson. Perpich proposes to take on governance of Crosswinds with much of the program, teaching, and student body as it is. They see a great deal of common ground between the Crosswinds mission and methods as they have been, and the goals of the Perpich Center. Some big questions remain (getting approval and funding from the legislature and planning for transportation, for example), it was clear that Perpich is eager and ready to launch an aggressive process to make a takeover possible in 2013. In fact, when repeatedly asked whether a 2014 handoff would be better, the Perpich team responded that they preferred to move fast and accomplish this transition on the original timeline proposed by the EMID Board. If funding realities or EMID made a 2014 transfer necessary, they assured the board that could work as well.
After hearing these proposals, Jim Gelbmann, the EMID Board member from South Washington County, proposed that the EMID Board immediately vote to delay the transfer of Crosswinds to any outside entity until 2014. He felt that by stating immediately that Crosswinds would remain under EMID governance next year the board would be providing assurance to parents and staff that they could count on one more year of stability at Crosswinds. No mention was made of how unstable such “stability” would feel given that two of the three proposals being considered would end the school as we know it. However, the board was reluctant to consider such a drastic change without public input and more chance to understand the impact. After some discussion, Gelbmann withdrew his proposal.
We now have a little breathing space for the holidays, but January will be an extremely busy month. Perpich will be moving to flesh out its plans with meetings with administration, staff, families, legislators, and even the Governor, so keep your eyes peeled for opportunities on that front. But EMID also has to begin to touch some statutory bases in order to make a 2013 handoff of Harambee to Roseville and Crosswinds to whoever possible. This includes:
- 9 January, a public hearing on the necessity and practicability of closing Crosswinds School.
- 10 January, a public hearing on the necessity and practicability of closing Harambee School.
- 23 January, the EMID Board meeting at which they will take action on closing the schools or transferring governance to another body.
- 23 January, if necessary, begin action to transfer title of the buildings to third parties.
- 20 February, if EMID ceases school operations at end of 2012/2013, this is the date by which the EMID Board has to officially notify employees.
- In March EMID has to take further actions with all teachers with regard to withdrawal and termini nation and tenure.
The language above is pretty scary, with all the talk of “closing.” Clearly EMID is doing what it can to hand off the schools and the situation with Harambee is pretty clear (it will be going to Roseville, more or less intact). But from the state’s perspective even this sort of “transfer” or “withdrawal” is the same as a “closure” with regard to EMID. EMID is getting out of the business of schools. Look for more details about these dates as they approach.