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Wayzata plan to move nearly 600 students to new schools up for a vote Monday night

May 21, 2018 GMT

The Wayzata school board is slated to vote Monday night on a controversial plan to move 500 elementary and 75 middle school students to new schools in 2019.

After listening to emotional testimony from parents outraged over proposed school boundary changes this month, officials postponed the vote by a week and have included recommended tweaks to the proposal presented earlier this month. District leaders say changes are needed to address overcrowding at some schools in the school district — the state’s 10th largest — and to fill a new ninth elementary school that is under construction this summer near the border of Plymouth and Medina.

Monday’s meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Wayzata High School.

Wayzata voters approved a $70 million referendum last fall that funded the construction of a new elementary, along with other projects. But many parents said this month that they supported the referendum to help with the anticipated new housing construction in the northwestern part of the 11,500-student school district, which draws students from parts of Corcoran, Maple Grove, Medicine Lake, Medina, Minnetonka, Orono, Plymouth and Wayzata.

More than 400 new homes were built in 2017 and the district expects another 1,000 homes by 2020, mostly in the Plymouth, Medina and Corcoran areas. But when officials said a new school would be built in the northwestern part of the district, many parents in the south and central part of the district said they thought they wouldn’t be affected.

Instead, the district is rejiggering attendance boundaries, meaning that some neighborhoods that are within sight of Greenwood Elementary will change to a school further away. And a Maple Grove neighborhood will have kids moved to their third school in six years after the district reshuffled boundaries when it opened its eighth elementary in 2016.

One by one, parents gave angry, sometimes tearful testimony earlier this month about having their children bused further away or leaving a school that parents have invested money and volunteer time into. Many parents asked the district to have their kids grandfathered in, meaning not moved, while others pointed out that the district should draw boundaries based on current students — not on future students living in homes not yet built. Some parents even threatened to move their kids to other school districts if the changes pass.

In the north metro, Anoka-Hennepin school leaders are looking to move 4,500 students — 11 percent of the student body — to new schools in fall 2019 to relieve overcrowding at some schools and fill classrooms at two new elementary schools being built this summer. The Anoka-Hennepin board isn’t expected to vote on the plan until Sept. 24.

Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141