Fine-tuning the boundary plansDistrict 833’s High School Attendance Boundary Task Force was scheduled to forward three plans to the oversight committee that met Tuesday, March 18 at Cottage Grove Junior High School.
By: Judy Spooner, Woodbury Bulletin
District 833’s High School Attendance Boundary Task Force was scheduled to forward three plans to the oversight committee that met Tuesday, March 18 at Cottage Grove Junior High School.
Each plan will be attached to a red, white and blue boundary plan already completed by the elementary and middle school task forces.
All high school plans send students in the middle part of the district to East Ridge High School, now under construction in Woodbury.
The task force met Tuesday, March 11, to discuss the A1, A2 and B plans and agreed to eliminate the C-plan
Changes were discussed and opinions exchanged but there was no agreement on final maps to send to oversight so the group agreed to return two nights later on Thursday, March 13.
Task force facilitators Dave Bernhardson and Mike Vogel, also assistant to the superintendent for operations, said they would come up with three plans incorporating task force suggestions.
When the task force reconvened, members were given revised plans labeled Aspen, Birch and Crab Apple.
After considerable discussion, members approved changing the Aspen plan so students in the Wyndham Ponds area can walk to Woodbury High School.
To accommodate the change, students in Marsh Creek and Savannah Oaks will go to East Ridge High School.
Several members questioned why students in area of the map labeled C-7 (Timber Ridge-Oakwood Heights, Gateway North and Pine Summit in Cottage Grove) are not slated to walk to Park High School because they live within the walking area.
Because of the topography, only some of the students walk, Vogel said two nights earlier.
“If that’s the reality, then we ought to change the ‘walking’ map,” said Steve Beaird, task force member.
Most people think East Ridge is a Woodbury school and not a Cottage Grove school, said Bob Heller, task force member. There is resentment that the new school is in Woodbury. St. Paul Park kids should go to Park, he said.
Task force member Rob Bach, also assistant Park High School principal, said the Aspen and Crab Apple plans were not balanced with an equal number of students at Park and East Ridge who receive free or reduced-price lunches, a standard used by the state to determine disadvantaged students.
Members eliminated Plan C two nights earlier for the same reason.
In the Crab Apple Plan, members agreed students were not evenly distributed among the schools; leaving Woodbury more crowded than the other two.
“This one is worse than Plan C,” said Dale Schmitz, referring to the Crab Apple Plan.
“This (Crab Apple Plan) creates haves and have-nots,” said Phil Kuemmel, task force member and athletic director for the south half of the district. “There are twice as many free and reduced lunches at Park than there are at East Ridge. I don’t think we’ve done our job if we leave that huge of a gap.”
“Why not take high-income and move it into Park,” said Kathy Schwartz, task force member. “We are always moving poor people.”
Task force member Tarek Tomes questioned the accuracy of the free and reduced lunch percentages.
“But this is huge disparity,” Bach said.
“If you’re going to have three plans, then they have to be different,” Bernhardson said.
After no consensus was reached on proposed changes to the Crab Apple Plan, it was suggested the task force forward the plan as presented, allow the oversight committee to comment, possibly adjust the plans and let the school board decide April 24 after public hearings.
“It’s irresponsible to move the Crab Apple Plan ahead,” said Linda Plante, task force member and Woodbury High School principal.
“The beef about the C-Plan was about creating an elite high school,” Bach said. “Go back to C, the Crab Apple Plan is worse.”
Bernhardson said he noted some similarities in the red, white and blue plans for elementary and middle school attendance areas and suggested the Aspen Plan be paired with the red Plan, Birch with the blue Plan and Crab Apple with the white Plan.
Some task force members argued that Aspen, Birch and Crab Apple plans be forwarded without matching them up to Red, White and Blue plans.
Arguing to attach the plans, Schwartz, and task force member Fred Gillespie, said not doing so would invite the oversight committee and the public to mix and match parts of the Red, White and Blue plans.
“I have one reservation,” Beaird said about attaching the plans. “They don’t match.”
Plante said, according to what she had read, the white plan was the least favorite one.
“If the Crab Apple Plan is the least favorite, then we should match them up,” Plante said.
District communications director Barb Brown said she had a call from parents “who love the white plan.”
To attach or not to attach was the question.
The task force, failing to reach consensus, agreed to abide by a vote. With some task force members refusing to vote, a one-vote margin approved Bernhardson’s proposed match-up.