School annexation modifications approved by committee

/ 22 March 2012 / jennifer

Erin Schmidtke, Session Daily, March 22, 2012 –

Every year, some Edina children travel the same distance from the Twin Cities to Vietnam during their bus rides to school. Parents of those students say this is unnecessary and are trying to change that.

Residents of a northeast Edina neighborhood live within the Hopkins school district, which means their children must ride the bus further than if they were able to attend school in Edina. Rep. Keith Downey (R-Edina) sponsorsHF2939, which would ease the process for these residents to become part of their hometown school district.

The House Education Finance Committee approved the bill and sent it to the House floor. Sen. Geoff Michel (R-Edina) sponsors the companion, SF2540, which awaits action by the Senate Education Committee.

Currently, for the neighborhood to be annexed into the Edina district, it would have to receive approval from both the Hopkins and Edina school boards. Under the bill, neighborhoods that want to change districts would only need approval from the annexing district.

Alan Koehler, a parent in this Edina neighborhood, said that while many parents opt to open enroll their children in Edina, placement is not guaranteed from year to year. Koehler added that even though a minority of local students chooses to attend Hopkins, all property taxes from the neighborhood go to that district.

“This really is just about, you know, coming of age, having children and realizing that going to a local school is really important for your family. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

Rep. Kathy Brynaert (DFL-Mankato) acknowledged the importance of local schools, but wondered whether the bill sidesteps the jurisdiction of Hopkins and Edina school boards.

“I would feel that I have failed in my responsibility if I haven’t seen that the appropriate elected authority is honored,” she said. She suggested that districts and the families of the neighborhood work toward a compromise.

– Erin Schmidtke