Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Ed Graff is still pushing for an April vote on his controversial redistricting proposal, despite objections from some parents who worry the plan will receive little scrutiny amid an unprecedented virus outbreak.
The proposal would upend the district's makeup by cutting and relocating magnet schools and redrawing attendance boundaries, which officials say will address racial disparities and an anticipated budget deficit of nearly $20 million.
The district planned to unveil its final proposal to the school board on March 24 to tee up a final vote in early April. Graff and school board chairwoman Kim Ellison announced Tuesday that the March 24 meeting is canceled and the vote has been rescheduled for April 28.
"There is a great deal of uncertainty," Graff said as he emphasized that the new timeline is subject to change. "I ask all of us to stay in the moment and recognize that as we get the information, it's our job to try and process that and make decisions."
Gov. Tim Walz has ordered all schools to shut down until at least March 27, an unprecedented step taken to limit the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus. Minneapolis schools are tentatively set to reopen on April 6.
With no end to the outbreak in sight, some parents who oppose the redesign plan have renewed their calls for a longer delay on the vote.
Before, these parents argued the district should come up with a new plan because the proposals it brought forward were crafted with little input from families and teachers. Now, they worry the district will push the plan through while parents who oppose it are confined to their homes.
"To thoughtlessly plow ahead with a plan at a time when families are frightened and literally unable to leave their homes is wildly insensitive and points to the lack of judgment and fairness that has marred this plan from the beginning," said Anjula Razdan, who has two children at Clara Barton Open School.
Charisma Smith, whose daughter attends Lucy Laney elementary, said North Side students should not have to wait any longer for the change the redistricting might bring.
Historically, the district's most popular schools and programs have been clustered in south Minneapolis. Under the redesign, north Minneapolis would have three magnet schools and a career and technical education hub.
"I think a delay perpetuates the status quo," Smith said.
Ryan Faircloth • 612-673-4234