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School District Asset Sales: Charter Edition

Lisa Snell
November 23, 2008, 9:03am

This seems like such an obvious win-win situation. Creating new revenue for a school district and giving charter schools desperately needed facilities. The St. Paul, Minnesota Star Tribune reports on the deal:
Under the proposal: Franklin Middle School, 1501 Aldrich Av. N.: Likely would be sold to WISE Charter School, a K-7 program on the North Side that serves about 300 students and plans to expand to eighth grade next year. Sale price: $5.3 million Putnam Elementary, 1616 NE. Buchanan St.: Yinghua Academy, one of the state's first Mandarin Chinese immersion programs, would relocate to Putnam from a site in St. Paul. Sale price: $2.4 million Morris Park Elementary, 3810 E. 56th St.: Hiawatha Leadership Academy, a K-2 that serves a large Latino population, would move into the school. Sale price: $2.9 million. All three charter schools expect to see their enrollment increase in the near future and have agreed to partner with Minneapolis on joint training programs for teachers. They will also open their facilities to the community for enrichment and recreation programs.
The Tribune story also offers anecdotal evidence that competition from charters is leading to district-wide improvement in Minneapolis.
Minneapolis closed five schools on the North Side during the past five years and began an ambitious plan to improve achievement at the remaining 10 schools. So far, the results of those changes have been mixed. While the charter schools won't be sponsored by Minneapolis or increase its enrollment in the short term, the prospect of adding WISE as a feeder school for North High is important because the school has faced sharper enrollment declines in recent years than high schools in south Minneapolis.

Lisa Snell is Director of Education


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