Edina residents who live in within boundaries have begun making the case directly to local school boards about why their neighborhood should be transferred to the Edina school district.
At Thursday’s Hopkins School Board meeting, spokesmen from Unite Edina 273—which represents 400 families in the Parkwood Knolls neighborhood—asked the district to start working toward “a mutually agreeable solution” that would allow the neighborhood to change districts. The group plans to address the Edina School Board May 21.
“School district boundaries should be about education, families and community, and not merely the possession of property taxes,” Unite Edina 273 Chairman Alan Koehler.
The group asked the board to:
- Approve any research or studies necessary for arriving at a solution. The group wants the data collected and analyzed by Sept. 1.
- Continue discussions between the school districts with the goal of arriving at a solution by Oct. 1.
- Identity someone from the Hopkins school district who can work with the group’s lawyers within the next two weeks to agree on the appropriate framework and structure of the petition.
- Identify a Hopkins school administrator who can provide neighborhood representatives with data and information during the study period.
Parkwood Knolls property owners want to leave Hopkins because the schools are not in locations that serve the families’ educational needs, Koehler said. The district has never had a school in Edina in its 130 years and has closed the two schools closest to the neighborhood.
By contrast, Edina Public Schools operates five schools within two miles of the homes.
Boundary change critics say open enrollment already empowers families to choose where their children go to school. New boundaries, on the other hand, could throw off the balance of established district boundaries. When neighborhoods leave, districts lose the money that follows students
Hopkins’ Legislative Action Coalition, which helps the School Board advocate for education-related legislation, estimates the district would lose at least $250,000 of referendum potential if the district’s portion of Edina went to Edina Public Schools. It would lose an additional $100,000 due to other students in that area becoming Edina students.
Even though districts are typically named after one of the cities they serve, they are separate local government entities, legally distinct from those cities. Hopkins Public Schools, for example, covers all of Hopkins, most of Minnetonka, half of Golden Valley and parts of Eden Prairie, Edina, Plymouth and St. Louis Park.
But Koehler described a neighborhood that has left Hopkins schools in everything but name. Of the 202 school-aged children in the area, 127 already attend Edina schools. Just nine attend Hopkins schools. Of those, five attend the Xin Xing Academy, the district’s Chinese immersion program, and three will graduate within the next two years. The final child is a sibling to the Xin Xing student who expects to move out, as well.
Meanwhile, no families with preschoolers have indicated they want to send their children to Hopkins schools, he said.
“Let me repeat and rephrase that point: After 2014, there will not be a single child from the current 400-plus families living in our neighborhood who is anticipated to spend their traditional K-12 school years in schools operated by the Hopkins district,” Koehler said.
The board did not take any action on Unite Edina 273’s request because the representatives spoke in the open agenda portion of the meeting—a time when School Board directors listen to community members’ concerns but do not respond to the requests.