Parents, teachers react to possible Crosswinds closureIt was back in August when parents of Crosswinds East Metro Arts and Science School first heard of the possibility of their beloved school closing.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
It was back in August when parents of Crosswinds East Metro Arts and Science School first heard of the possibility of their beloved school closing.
“We were shocked in August,” St. Paul resident and Crosswinds parent Eric Celeste said. “It had never been on the table – nobody had even whispered that that was a possibility.”
It was during the August East Metro Integration District 6067 School Board meeting that the possibility of closing Crosswinds and Harambee schools even became known to parents.
“It was really disheartening to learn this,” Stillwater resident and Crosswinds parent Susan Larson said. “Where that communication breakdown came from I’m not sure.”
For some of Crosswinds’ teachers, learning of Crosswinds’ possible closure wasn’t as much of a surprise.
“This has always been sort of in the forefront because we’ve always been in between districts, so this was bound to happen at some point,” Crosswinds sixth grade teacher Kristen Konop said.
After learning that their school’s future was uncertain, Crosswinds parents and teachers came together to tell Crosswinds’ 10 member districts that they won’t lose their school without a fight.
“It would be a shame if the school only lasted a decade,” Celeste said. “You can see the heart wrenching pain there, so closing the schools would be a blow.”
Crosswinds’ parents sent in petitions, letters and attended every board meeting.
Celeste and Larson said they think it was because parents stepped up that the member districts presented the alternative option to keep the schools open.
“We were an example of a community really pulling together to say that we care about our school,” Larson said. “I felt that the board heard that message.”
Celeste and Larson said they were in support of the alternative option, which would decrease the amount of EMID 6067 integration dollars as a way to keep the school open.
Crosswinds principal Bryan Bass said he also sees Option 2 as a viable alternative.
“Obviously it appears to be an opportunity to be a win-win situation,” he said. However, Celeste said he has some reservations about the option as well.
With the decrease in integration dollars, EMID would have to turn to its reserve funds to help keep the school operating.
However, EMID only has enough funds to keep the schools operating for about four years.
“The job isn’t over because this proposal is unsustainable,” Celeste said. “It’s still putting the schools under a death sentence.”
Celeste said the option does give EMID more time to look at the school though and figure out a more long-term solution for the school.
“All we wanted was time,” he said.
Whether the schools close or if the alternative is approved, the future is still uncertain for Crosswinds’ teachers since less money could mean larger class sizes and fewer teachers.
“This is a moment for me to not jump to any conclusions, but kind of understand what the issues are,” Celeste said. “I realize we may not look exactly the way we do now.”
Konop said she isn’t concerned about her future at Crosswinds; she is concerned about the future of the school itself.
“I’m used to the idea of change,” she said. “What bothers me more is losing this idea and belief of an integrated classroom – that’s more of a loss.”
Celeste and Larson said they chose to enroll their children at Crosswinds for a multitude of reasons – the full year schedule, the emphasis on arts and sciences – but mainly because of the multicultural emphasis.
“The multicultural nature of the schools is just wonderful,” Celeste said. “You see everyone mixed together – it’s a rainbow of students.”
Celeste and Larson said they hope the superintendents of the member districts take a step back and look at the schools and realize how important they are to the community.
“These schools are doing a job for these districts right now,” Celeste said. “They are a beacon of how integration should be done, how multicultural education can be done.”