Edina Property Owners Stuck in School District Boundary Limbo

A group of more than 400 Edina property owners working to detach from the Hopkins School District need the district's consent before they can go before the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners.

After handing off more than 400 signed petitions for detachment to the Hopkins School District, the members of Unite Edina 273 are stuck playing the waiting game.

The group of Edina property owners have been working to switch their homes from the Hopkins School District to Edina for quite some time now, both by talking with the two districts and by lobbying the state Legislature.

Alan Koehler said 97 percent of property owners in the Parkwood Knolls area—in Edina's northwest corner—currently support annexation to the Edina School District. Koehler and the other Unite Edina 273 members presented their signed petitions to Hopkins administrators late last month, though it's not clear what sort of power those petitions have.

The petitions are actually addressed to the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, though current statute requires consent from the detaching school district before the matter can go to the county. Koehler said he hopes to officially file those petitions with Hennepin County later this month, meaning a hearing could take place before the end of the year.

"We provided Hopkins with copies of our petitions, so we're giving them some time to go through them right now," Koehler said. "We're basically just waiting to see what sort of response they will give us."

Should they be denied detachment by Hopkins schools, Koehler said the next order of business would be to go back to the Legislature to try to amend state law. Keith Downey (R-Edina) and Geoff Michel (R-Edina) championed legislation last session that would have amended the existing statute, which Koehler claims "gives no power to the homeowner and no mechanism to change districts without consent of the detaching district."

"We have 97 percent of homeowners wanting to change districts, with less than five percent attending Hopkins schools, but even in those circumstances we're not allowed any sort of due process," he said. "Whether we change the statute, create a new statute or just abolish it, it doesn't matter. Right now, it doesn't serve its purpose at all."

Edina Public Schools has thus far tried to stay out of the matter altogether, though Koehler said several school board members have told him "our families would be welcomed into the district" if the annexation takes place.

The impact in terms of students switching from attending Hopkins schools to Edina would be between six and 12, according to Koehler, as most of the neighborhood's children already attend Edina Public Schools via open enrollment.

While some might argue there isn't much of a problem given the small number of residents actually attending Hopkins schools, Koehler said it's a strange situation to pay property taxes to one school district and have your children attend school in another. He admits the school funding system will likely never be perfect, but noted Parkwood Knolls residents find themselves "in a strange middle zone."

"Our kids go to one district, but our money goes to another," he said. "Somebody else is bearing the cost of educating our kids, which we'd like to remedy. We believe the money should follow the students."

Victor December 17, 2012 at 06:42 PM
The tribune 12/15/12 article mentioned: 'forgo longer bus rides to Hopkins schools' I doubt that they ride the bus, as their trophy wife mothers drive them to school in their Mercedes SUVs. And only nine children from Parkwood Knolls attends Hopkins schools... then why the whining.
Mark Jones December 17, 2012 at 07:49 PM
I think the most interesting aspect of this whole debacle is why the parents from the Edina area think that the Edina school district is 'better' than the Hopkins school district. Obviously if that perception is there it could be good for real estate prices, but are Edina schools really offering a better education than Hopkins? First of all we have to agree on what is their measure of better? This is a challenge in itself, but before charging down this path we have to look at the demographics of each school district's students. Edina schools has less than 9% students in free and reduced lunch. Hopkins has close to 40% Edina has 3.2% ELL students, Hopkins has 11% ELL students. Does this make a difference to the school districts average students test scores? Of course it does! Does it make any difference to YOUR child's average test scores? Probably not! continued in next comment....
Mark Jones December 17, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Continued from above... Each school distict is hiring from the same group of teachers in the twin cities pool. I think could reasonably argue that the teacher population is not much different between Hopkins and Edina. The schools get a similar amount of money per child and have similar expenses. So what miracle is Edina performing to improve its test results - it has students who come from middle class to affluent backgrounds who have English as their first language! Again I want to emphasize the most important point - for most children in the South West suburbs their success and test scores will probably not be any different between any of the school districts. The average in Hopkins schools is weighed down by the population of students from which it draws and the more white middle class flight that occurs the more distinct the average test scores between Edina and Hopkins will become and so the parents who have chosen to open enroll in Edina will be vindicated and will point back and say "Gosh, the Hopkins school district is getting worse and worse!" - and as we can see they would be wrong!
J. Bergman December 18, 2012 at 07:30 PM
The comments made by Victor are really hateful. Why is it so bad that these parents want to send their children to nearby schools? It would be better for the environment, and better for the children. And why should the Hopkins school board be allowed to hold children hostage for no reason other than money?
Mark Jones December 18, 2012 at 08:49 PM
I agree that Victor's comments were not constructive but neither is a comment like 'hold children hostage'. To what exactly are your children being held hostage? Money is an incredibly important reason for decisions in every school district - including Edina - every child is precious and every child and the money associated with each child is almost as important to each school district. It is worth pointing out that many areas chose to join the Hopkins School District including the Edina section in 1946 See Hopkins Patch article: http://goldenvalley.patch.com/articles/why-does-the-hopkins-school-district-cover-so-many-cities#photo-4067030 ... 1946: Shady Oak Common District No. 97 votes to dissolve and join Hopkins Added parts of Minnetonka, Eden Prairie and Edina


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