Christopher Magan, Pioneer Press, May 20, 2013 – Efforts to keep open two east-metro magnet schools with a focus on voluntary integration will come down to the wire.
Supporters of Crosswinds East Metro Arts & Science School and Harambee Elementary Community Cultures and Environmental Science School turned to Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday, May 20, as the hours left in the legislative session ticked away.
The East Metro Integration District, or EMID, that ran the schools voted in January to transfer control of the programs because they had gotten too expensive. Proposed legislation allowing them to turn over state-owned facilities has failed to win approval.
DFL State Reps. Jason Isaacson, Peter Fischer and JoAnn Ward met with Dayton on Monday afternoon to ask him to help find a solution that will keep the schools open. Without one, the buildings in Woodbury and Roseville likely will sit empty next year.
“This has been a terrible civics lesson for the kids,” said Bill Droessler, a parent with two sons in EMID schools, who waited with students and other supporters outside the governor’s office at the Capitol.
Roseville Area Schools hopes to take over Harambee and operate the existing magnet program. Golden Valley-based Perpich Center for Arts Education asked to run Crosswinds, but needed legislative approval to do so.
South Washington County Schools also wants the $26 million Crosswinds building, but has no plans to operate the existing program that serves students in grades 6 through 10.
Bills supporting the transfers won support in the House, but went nowhere in the Senate. EMID supporters accused State Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Newport, and other senators who represent south Washington County, of blocking the legislation. Sieben has said she has many questions about Perpich’s plans to operate Crosswinds, but she denied holding up the legislation.
Dayton told EMID school supporters he would talk to Sieben Monday to try to find a solution, Fischer said.
“We are doing everything we can,” said the Maplewood DFLer. “It’s frustrating.”
The legislative session ends at midnight Monday.