Curriculum key for Crosswinds backersCrosswinds staff, parents and students expressed their opinions over the future of Crosswinds East Metro Arts and Science School during a public hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 9 at the school.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Crosswinds staff, parents and students expressed their opinions of the proposals, and the closure of the school, during a public hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 9 at the school.
Most of the 35 people who signed up to speak during last week’s hearing were supportive of turning the building over to Perpich, which aims to preserve some of the same programming currently offered at Crosswinds.
A proposal from Perpich seeks to take over Crosswinds because it “recognizes the synergy and strength of Crosswinds with Perpich Center philosophy of bringing urban, rural and suburban students together in effective educational programs focused on teaching in and through the arts.”
Perpich officials hope to incorporate its “Artscience” curriculum, which is a new program that “combines aesthetic and analytical ways of thinking. Students work across disciplines to produce innovative ventures based on a given scientific theme.”
Additionally, Perpich stated that it would like to incorporate alternative and innovative education models.
The Perpich proposal does have an added hurdle, however.
Since Perpich is a state agency, it will require amendments by legislative action.
'Give governance to Perpich’
Dan Larson, a Stillwater resident and a parent of Crosswinds students, said he was in favor of Perpich’s proposal because it would continue with the integrative learning.
“I think of integration in terms of learning and curriculum,” he said. “It provides students with creative learning styles and I believe innovative approach is the true value of Crosswinds.
“Two of the three proposals would squelch this education innovation, but Perpich would continue the unique arts focus which provides the ability to welcome creative students and make them thrive. Perpich is the best option for students.”
St. Paul resident Fred LeBlanc mirrored Larson’s sentiments.
“We’ve found a suitor for this school,” he said. “We’ve found an organization that is going to continue what this school is all about.
“I accept the closure with the acceptance of Perpich taking over – that is the only option that this school will survive.”
LeBlanc’s daughter, Abby, a ninth grader at Crosswinds, also spoke in support of the Perpich proposal.
Abby LeBlanc said she realizes the Perpich proposal is a risk, since legislative action is required.
“We are an (International Baccalaureate) school and one of the characteristics of an (International Baccalaureate) student is risk taker, so why not take a risk,” she said. “It’s a risk I’m willing to take in hopes that the spirit of the school will live.”
EMID board members representing 10 member school district – Forest Lake Area Schools, Inver Grove Heights, Roseville Area Schools, South St. Paul Schools, South Washington County Schools, Spring Lake Park, St. Paul Public Schools, Stillwater Area Schools, West St. Paul and White bear Lake Schools – said in November the district can’t afford to continue operating Crosswinds, a school for grades 6-10, and Harambee, an elementary school in Maplewood for grades K-6.
Both schools were built in 2003 with a specific focus on programs that integrate students from racially diverse St. Paul Public Schools with surrounding suburban districts were more racially homogenous.
Given the financial situations, and declining enrollments, the EMID School Board decided to ask other education entities for proposals to take over the school.
The entity would get the school free of charge as long as it’s operated for educational purposes.
The EMID School Board received a proposal from the Roseville School District to take over Harambee and the three proposals to take over Crosswinds.
EMID is currently weighing two other proposals in addition to Perpich’s.
One comes from District 833, whose boundaries include Crosswinds.
District 833’s proposal states it would not start classes immediately next year, however it would use the 2013-14 school year for planning and transition.
Additionally, the proposal stated that under District 833 ownership, Crosswinds would not maintain its current focus.
The third proposal comes from ISD 916. Under that proposal, the district would not operate current programs if given an opportunity to take over Crosswinds either.
The EMID School will review proposals during its Jan. 16 meeting before making a final decision at its Jan. 23 meeting.
“I do not envy you at all,” said Crosswinds special education teacher Jeff Parker. “I’m not here to change your mind, but I am going to push on your mindset – it’s not wise to spend energy fighting the change, but it is wise to spend energy shaping that change.
“I don’t believe that school closure is a term that I want to hear anymore because that is a mindset of decay; I want to shift our mindset to a more preservation mindset – turn away from closing and turn toward preserving the program. I don’t believe this is the end, it does not need to be the end.”