Perhaps Hell has in fact frozen over. Last night at Minneapolis Public Schools HQ, the school board discussed the likely closure of a number of city schools and the transfer of their students to other schools. And no one screamed. No names were called. Nary an accusation of indifference or ineptitude was floated. We can't say for sure when last there was so much quiet discussion at 807 Broadway, but it's probably safe to say there are middle-schoolers who couldn't say the alphabet last time this happened.
Last night the board and the public got their first gander at the so-called North Side Initiative, under which MPS would close anywhere from four to eight schools at the end of this academic year. In concert, the district would beef up resources in the remaining schools and lower class sizes in early grades. And yes, that deafening silence would be coming from Minneapolis's African American community, which has long been at odds with school administrators.
Of course, none of this is to say that any dust has settled. Board member Chris Stewart, for one, hasn't exhaled and doesn't expect to know whether the reorganization plan will earn the district any renewed community trust until administrators hear from the parents of the 1,100 to 1,800 children facing reassignment.
Today's Star Tribune contains a fine account of the plan and the conditions that gave rise to it. But if you're interested in more detailed information or want to try to handicap the odds for a particular school, a visit to the MPS website will supply even more details.
A chart laying out the proposed timeline and direct comparisons of the three proposed scenarios can be found here. (Caveat: scenario C bit the dust last night.) But even more helpful is the presentation found here, which includes clear, concise information on which classrooms are half-full and which bursting at the seams.