MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The prospect of major changes across the Minneapolis public school district drew a large crowd in northeast Monday evening.

Five different proposals could lead to roughly 14,000 students changing schools.

Most were simply looking for some clarity. And to an extent, they feel they got some.

Superintendent Ed Graff acknowledged there will be disruption for families, but he says it’s necessary for the betterment of the district — specifically for students of color.

READ MORE: Parents Speak Out Against Study’s Proposed Changes To Minneapolis School District

Addressing the auditorium of families in Northeast Middle School, district administrators walked the crowd through its Comprehensive District Design. Four of the five proposals involved changes such as centralizing magnet schools in the city, as well as eliminating K-8 schools and instead having K-5 and middle schools.

Much of that includes drawing new boundary lines that help eliminate extreme segregation in schools, where more than 80% of the student body are students of color — in an effort to raise their academic achievement

“We need to make sure that we’re taking every single student into account. We have many of our students who are not meeting those expectations that we have for success in our schools. Whether it be because we don’t have the experiences available to them, or because of where they attend school, where they live in our city,” Graff said.

(credit: CBS)

Parents told WCCO they understand not everyone will come away from these proposals happy, with even one parent saying the district’s effort is thankless work. Some wondered how much will these proposals will cost since schools might need remodeling as they adjust to new student bodies.

Parents were allowed to submit questions at the listening session.

“Both of our children go to Marcy Open School now. It’s 40% Caucasian, 40 percent African-African American, 20% other. They’re in a very diverse environment, and that’s important to us,” parent Andrea Dishong said. “And if they’re routed to their community schools, they’ll be in all-white schools.”

Many parents still feel there’s a long way to go to understanding the best choice.

“What I’m not seeing is what is that diversity going to look like. I think if the maps held a better idea of, like, what the schools will actually look like and what that diversity is, it’ll help us better understand where that is,” parent Adam Ceiling said. “Because while they’re saying they want it diverse, they also wanted to talk about celebrating local ethnicities in a stronger way. So it feels like there’s, like, I just want to understand that better, and I’m not against any of those things. But I felt like we got dual-sided answers on that tonight.”

The school board will review the five proposals at Tuesday’s meeting. The district will choose one to present to the board in March, with a vote expected in April. More listening sessions are scheduled before that will happen.

Jeff Wagner

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