Families Building Community

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

F2 should be placed together

Our shared F2 experience and established community connections have created a strong network of family involvement and community engagement across East Harriet and Kingfield. We have worked as a group on a community school together for decades, and we have a shared identity of not having a community school. While this is admittedly a sad criterion for an identity, this shared history has turned into concern for one another over the years. This is what makes schools strong: social connections and involvement of parents and neighborhoods.

Furthermore, we recognize the value of diversity in our community schools and seek to promote a naturally diverse school based on a foundation of a naturally diverse community. Kingfield and East Harriet together have an enviable demographic mix that meets District goals for diversity both along racial and socio-economic lines.

Finally, many of our children are already in school together as we have become a bigger presence at Lake Harriet and Burroughs. Those who attend different schools may have attended the same community preschool and play on the same sports teams at Farmstead and MLK. They meet each other at the playground after school. These connections are the best chance at continuity for our children who will be leaving their familiar school buildings, staff, and most of their friends. We ask that the children of F2 be placed together in one school in order to minimize the inevitable disruption they face.

Splitting F2 into 2, 3 or 4 parcels and sending our children to various SW schools would work against District goals on many levels. First, this would fail to substantially reduce busing. Taxpayers are looking to the District to save money – the way to do this effectively is to assign children to the school closest to their home. There is one school building in F2 that is centrally located for this community and would sharply reduce busing for several hundred children were it to become the community school.

Second, this effort does little to promote diversity in SW schools. For example, if the District assigns F2 families to Burroughs to replace the F2 families who will be displaced, besides appearing unfair, this would prevent Burroughs from attracting the diversity that school desires. Lyndale, without a significant and transformative push toward integration, will also remain segregated.

Finally, this slice and dice approach to F2 fails to provide a long-term sustainable solution for the growing number of families in Kingfield and East Harriet. Even in 2000 when there were only 500 F2 students, a split option was considered unsustainable due to the growth trend predicted in this attendance area (and we did grow – we are now 750 students, a 50% increase in enrollment in only 9 years).

F2 is a strong community made of two strong and closely connected neighborhoods. Keep us together and see us grow and flourish!