Could Lawsuits Greet St. Paul School Plan?

By Holly Wagner, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — Parents in St. Paul Public Schools are still reeling from a decision by the school board to restructure the district.

For one thing, it’ll be a lot harder for them to choose a different school across town because school buses won’t take them there.

The district’s plan is called “Strong Schools, Strong Communities.” It’s designed to help more students do well with math and reading, and help close the achievement gap. It’s also expected to save the district millions of dollars in the midst of a $20 million shortfall.

The school board voted last night to move forward with the plan that will end citywide busing, get rid of several magnet programs, and relocate several schools by 2014.

The plan will be phased in over the next three years and will divide St. Paul into six regions that the district says are racially and socio-economically diverse.

Expo Elementary on Niles and Warwick in St. Paul will lose its magnet status when this new plan is phased in. A school official there said about a third of their students will be affected by the change in busing.

Right now they have quite a few kids bused in from the Frogtown neighborhood, which is five miles from the school. Under this new plan, students in that neighborhood would have to find a ride to school or be bused to a school closer to home.

Kenya Walker lives in Frogtown and her son, Lance, is a first grader at Expo. She drives him to school every day and says she’ll continue driving him after the changes. She knows other parents won’t have that option.

Walker says she understands budget constraints but worries about the long term effects.

“At whose expense? Are we saving the budget and neglecting to educate our kids? If we neglect to educate our kids, we won’t have a budget because we’re not equipping them to compete and help them make a difference for our community,” she said.

The plan has drawn quite a bit of controversy from parents, the NAACP and the African American Leadership Council. The NAACP reportedly sent a letter to the school board stating concerns about the plan re-segregating schools and even mentioned a possible lawsuit.

Superintendent Valeria Silva says the city is so diverse, that won’t happen.

“We wouldn’t put together a plan that would cause segregation,” said Silva. “We’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do. My community and my staff put this plan together because we have to an achievement gap that we have to address. We’re doing what’s good for kids.”

Silva said one focus of the plan is to ensure students at every school in St. Paul can get an equal education. Right now, she said, there are schools that are underperforming. Part of the plan will extend the school day for several schools that are underperforming, and revamp the curriculum.

Silva says they’re also ramping up recruitment efforts in hopes of attracting new students to the district.

More from Holly Wagner
  • Kevin

    Your kidding right? There is nothing but color in St Paul! And this is now a “black” issue? When will the “black community” get over it? There must be 50 different races in St Paul….this is too funny…..diverstiy in action…watch them sue themselves!!!!! Well you wanted diversity….you got it baby….

  • Cracker

    If all else fail pull out that good ol race card

  • Monica

    No… there is quite a few “white” people complaing too…..

  • Monica


  • lovemygrandkids

    I think it is wrong, my grandkids are bused to a school because that school was the best fit for them. The kids are comfortable with the principal and the teachers and they do good in this school. She can drive them thank goodness she has that choice but now those parents who can’t drive their kids will have to send their child to a school that may not fit their needs (the childs). It is not about race/our childs best interest it is all about money they don’t care for these kids.

    • lovemygrandkids

      by the way I am white and think it stinks.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Thursday Night Football

Listen Live