The Theft of Woodbury Elementary

District 833 evicting neighborhood children from their school and displacing special needs children for a pet program.

Two years ago, our school board for District 833 attempted to close a neighborhood school to give it to a choice program that cannot fill half of the school.

Two years later and District 833 is taking a new approach; they are trying to evict the students from one of our original neighborhood schools for what is essentially a private school funded with our community dollars.

Woodbury Elementary School is the neighborhood school that not only has the highest percentage of walking kids, it also houses the best special needs program, and a pre-kindergarten program. The special needs children have been successfully integrated with the other kids within the school. Being the parent of two children that have gone to Woodbury Elementary, I can state first hand that this enrichment for my boys is an invaluable.

The proposal is not a financial need, rather, a special interest need. Once again, the Spanish Immersion program, that has caused our school to run a deficit for the last four years, plans on stealing the school from the neighborhood and our children and transplant our programs throughout the district.

The Spanish immersion program already does not allow out of district enrollment, enjoys smaller class sizes, and gets a specialized education of their choice at total taxpayer expense. This is already discriminatory against every student within our public school district, but the bullies of parents of the Spanish Immersion program do not care what is best for the district or community, they just want to take what they can, to include seats on the School Board, in order to steal taxpayer dollars from the children of the district for their own.

Further, part of the plan is the theft of Crosswinds School.

The District has reportedly already contacted state legislators encouraging them to refuse the Perpich Plan in order for District 833 to take over the school. These proposals by our district are going to cost our community millions of dollars and our district is already running a deficit, so they are looking to lower our bond rating through there immoral, unethical, and irresponsible actions.

There is a meeting scheduled for 02/25/2013 at 6:30pm at Woodbury Elementary School to inform the parents of Woodbury Elementary that our children are inferior to the Spanish Immersion children and that we need to be evicted so they can have our school. I encourage any and all taxpayers in our district to attend and stand up for the children of our community.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

LET February 19, 2013 at 09:06 PM
Take a look at Crosswinds - it was built as an Arts & Science Magnet School for Middle Years students by the state of Minnesota. It is geared towards middle school learning and $25 million was used to insure the criterion was met for this purpose. The program has worked well for 6-10 graders, far from what is needed for an elementary school. This successful integrative arts program could naturally be continued by Perpich. To disengage the building and the students from this setting geared towards a year round IB program, would be a travesty. Rather, take a look at what has been naturally occurring in your backyard waiting to welcome your middle year students!
Kim Zaiman February 19, 2013 at 10:03 PM
I think assuming that Woodbury Elementary would be moving to our beautiful new building is premature. Yes, my child attends Crosswinds. No, I'm not a member of district 833. One thing that nobody has mentioned that the 833 school board has very clearly stated that - IF they are handed this $25 million building for free - they would essentially gut it and completely redesign and build the interior. Using millions of your tax money. What a waste of your money.
Kim Zaiman February 19, 2013 at 10:04 PM
Bills have been introduced in both the House (HF592) and Senate (SF530).
Joe Ryan February 19, 2013 at 10:08 PM
Crosswinds is not a viable alternative as a location. It is a 2 story middle school that cannot house our special needs children, does not have actual classrooms due to a different teaching style, and the children would have to be bussed because the state statute on bussing requires measurement by roads. And most importantly, Crosswinds is being used. Just as I do not want my child to lose his school, which is much more than a building, I do not wish that on any Crosswinds child or SI child. My biggest concern is the lack of ideas from the District. If the argument is that the middle school is bursting at the seams and SI needs a building of their own in order to grow and be more successful, why is there not talk of going to the people and ask for a renewal of the bonding that paid for East Ridge and use the building money to build a new Elementary School and Middle School on the East side of Woodbury or Southeast to also work with Cottage Grove and not only provide an SI program center, but also a dual tracked middle school that would actually be planning for the future growth of our community. I am confident that building these collocated buildings could be done for the same price or less than what East Ridge cost. I would vote for this levy/bonding issue in a heartbeat to ensure the future success of our district and ensure that our kids get to grow up in their neighborhood schools or the choice program of their choice without this issue ever having to arise again.
Kim Zaiman February 19, 2013 at 10:10 PM
True. Crosswinds Arts & Science School has been open to - and continues to be - to ALL district 833 students. This includes transportation from anywhere in the district.
Jen February 21, 2013 at 05:00 PM
Mr Ryan, the district is not required to include you in everything they do, you are not a school board member. They did include teacher, principal and parent reps from all schools that could be affected. As we have just learned, the group of stakeholders worked together as quickly as possible to develop a plan in place to discuss this publicly next week. You, however, decided to use this topic as a chance to attack the Spanish Immersion Community as you did two years ago. The District has posted their rebuttal to your inaccurate statements here: http://www.sowashco.k12.mn.us/HotTopics/CrossWinds/response-to-social-media.asp
Layne Staley February 23, 2013 at 02:05 AM
Although I'm strongly against the the possible transaction made with Woodbury Elementary.... Jen just owned with that statement Joe Ryan!
Ask Larry February 25, 2013 at 12:27 AM
FYI... Jen, 833 is a public school district. And I do expect to be included on all decisions the school board makes. Especially the ones that directly affect my children! At least JR had the balls to say something. Unlike the school board who said nothing until he spoke up.
Jen February 25, 2013 at 04:24 AM
Larry, no one ever said that parents weren't going to be involved. Parents are not involved in all district planning from day one. If you want to think what Mr Ryan said in his initial post, the one where he blasted a group of parents who knew nothing about what he was talking about was ok, so be it. I don't call that having balls, I call that a attack. It seems to me that all families that this will affect will get the information and will be allowed to give input. Mr Ryan knew that, but decided to bully whom he saw fit. This isn't his first time doing so.
Ask Larry February 25, 2013 at 02:08 PM
If you look on the district website... a decision has already been made by 833 when/if the Crosswinds building is taken over. Read through the board meetings, it says what will happen upon takeover and when the changes will take place. (2013-14) Yes the board scheduled input meetings to make the community feel as if they've been heard. It's only to soften the blow. The board has NO alternate plan in place and its obvious why. From what I've read on our district website WE will be moving next year. Very very sad to see this happen. Dividing our community over one choice program = Epic Fail. Well done.
Joe Ryan March 01, 2013 at 08:47 PM
Actually, right after my initial post, I received a phone call from Jen, the SI PTSO president. I was prepared to issue an apology to the Spanish Immersion parents, and do apologize to most of them. Why did I not issue an apology? Because I emailed Jen my apology verbiage to ensure that she found it appropriate, only for her to respond to my email stating that she did not want it issued because in fact SI had a representative on the task force that had devised this plan. I will gladly share the e-mail exchange with anyone who would like to see it. Now I see she is comfortable taking pot shots at me after I respected her wishes in not issuing the subsequent post. Further, I have never spoke negatively about SI until recent developments. My wife and I are both linguists and I have operated in 16 countries. Last time I spoke out against closing our school, but specifically am on record of stating that we needed to find an alternative. I even spoke to Jen about alternatives, but apparently I was using the wrong language.
Joe Ryan March 01, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Secondly, I readily admit that I did not have all the facts and may have reported some aspects incorrectly. That is because our district administration refuses to be open about its activities. I do not personally need to know every activity, but something that is going to cost our community millions of dollars in remodeling/expansion project and ongoing increase in operating costs should be public knowledge. Lastly, there still is not public input. Superintendent Jacobus made that clear at the Woodbury Elementary meeting. He clearly showed that the only plan being considered is as I outlined in my original post. The district has kept this project a secret for four months and it was long overdue to come to light. Open meetings should have been called to discuss opportunities and options, but that is not how our district administration operates.
Jen March 01, 2013 at 09:41 PM
Actually Joe, the email you wanted to post never once had an apology to the Spanish Immersion families for your initial post blasting THEM. Your email was bashing the district and blaming them for pitting families against families, which is actually just what your initial post intended to do. After your initial post I did, in fact, discover we had a parent on the task force, as did your school and others. I chose not to attach my name in a post by you because I chose not to bash anyone here, families, children, teachers, or the administration. Decisions have not been made, stakeholders have been involved and as the opportunities present themselves, I am sure the district will make everyone aware.
Joe March 01, 2013 at 10:00 PM
Jen- I have a simple question. What is the district's plan if Perpich is able to obtain funding and ISD 833 doesn't acquire Crosswinds? Will the WE kids be displaced in order for the SI program to expand? If the district is so "open" with this process, why haven't they answered this simple question publically? -different Joe
Sarah Kopinski March 01, 2013 at 10:09 PM
Our program is not expanding at this point. The problem is projected growth within the district. So eventually they will have to build another school if they cannot acquire the Crosswinds building.
Jen March 01, 2013 at 10:11 PM
Joe, the current plan isn't about SI expanding. It's about space at the middle school levels. There has been no discussion about NFSI expansion. I don't have An answer about a plan if the district doesn't acquire Crosswinds. I suppose a Middle School would need to be built soon. Leaving the rest as is. I don't think they've answers publically because there isn't an answer? Not one that I'm privy to? I'm just a parent volunteer after all, not a district official
Kris Janisch March 01, 2013 at 10:16 PM
Did a story in early January asking the district's plans after the city announced it would open up Phase 2 for development: http://patch.com/A-0Wy0
Joe March 01, 2013 at 10:42 PM
If SI isn't expanding and all we need is more middle school splace, then why is there talk about moving SI and WE kids at all? Why not have SI stay at Crestview, WE kids stay at WE, and use Crosswinds for an addtional middle school (which is what Crosswinds was designed as)? Seems to make more sense the displacing all these different groups of kids around. There must be more to the story and I think people have a right to be suspicious of this plan. ...
Jen March 01, 2013 at 10:49 PM
Because NFSI and Creastview are exploding at the seams. Both need room too. This is all info that has been discussed At meetings and by the district many times.
Sarah Kopinski March 01, 2013 at 10:51 PM
I understood all the issues by simply sitting and listening to the Superintendent for an hour. I would encourage any parent that is wondering to do the same and attend the future meetings that they will have if they can even get the building. All this mistrust and anger seems silly after hearing the facts, not the rants of a parent that hates the SI program.
Joe Ryan March 01, 2013 at 11:46 PM
@Sarah Kopinski...SI parent I presume? Of course you would agree with the plan. It is a win win for SI while taking away our neighborhood school. Further, why is SI not moving into Crosswinds should it become part of District 833? Woodbury Elementary has the most diverse student population, the best special needs program, and a larger student population, so it only makes sense for SI to go to Crosswinds, which would give room for growth and only be moving one set of students.
Sarah Kopinski March 02, 2013 at 12:36 AM
I assume you went to your meeting and asked these questions? Or do you just blast everyone on the Internet? Crosswinds can house 600 students. That is not viable for our school. And also no I'm not really thrilled to move. It is the furthest from where I live. But I'm adult and I get over it and accept it.
Sarah Kopinski March 02, 2013 at 01:14 AM
Frankly I'm over this conversation with you. You are a coward that hides behind a very hurtful and hateful article that publicly spread lies to our community. You said things about our school and the parents that were just morally wrong. I am not a thief, or a bully, and I pay plenty of taxes. And I refuse to feel like I can't advocate and care about my children's education.
MNHockeyMama March 04, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Joe's blog was spot-on. The whole SI issue is getting old, and personally, I'm sick and tired of the SI parents attempting to overtake neighborhood schools. If Crestview is bursting at the seams, then perhaps it is time for the SI parents to start looking into a way to make SI a charter school and build their own school instead of constantly trying to commandeer a local neighborhood school so their little precious elitist children can continue with a boondoggle program.
SJ March 04, 2013 at 11:55 PM
I am an SI parent and I haven't tried to overtake anything. I am not sure how you can blame our kids - were Crosswinds viable, it would be a non-issue. The middle schools are over capacity - and our middle schoolers still have to go somewhere. I think SI has made a convenient scapegoat for the district's inability to manage boundaries, strategic planning, growth projections, etc. It is part and parcel of being at our school. We advocate for our children like I assume you advocate for yours. I don't think your suggestion of kicking out parents whose ideals don't align with yours is part of a healthy, constructive dialogue about the future of our school district - given we are our own elementary school that would be akin to my advocating closing Middleton. I do think there are myriad solutions to this problem, but given that districts don't typically have "free" buildings drop into their laps, it's prudent to use all resources available. Lastly, Dr Jacobus made it crystal clear at the SI parent meeting last week - no matter what happens with the Crosswinds building, there is zero chance of SI expanding into additional kindergarten sections. Our community population, more than any other school, has remained constant - each class size is fixed. Given that the district has never wanted us to expand, why can't they have planned for us? We are the easiest community (with VC, Gateway) to project and they historically have dropped the ball.
Mike March 06, 2013 at 06:57 AM
This makes no sense. So, you’re suggesting taking about $2.5 million in revenue out of the district with this ridiculous suggestion that the school convert to a charter. Just what the district needs right now – less money. And, by the way, you are rude.
MNHockeyMama March 06, 2013 at 08:40 PM
Gateway is a program that takes a child testing at a certain level to get into. It is vitally important to the district because it nurtures the brightest of our children. Spanish Immersion is not of vital importance. Sorry, but that is the truth. The fact that our district even began it is pathetic. Now that we are facing huge deficits and planning on cutting services, why would you expect the community NOT to look at the plans for Crosswinds and the disruption of the students in a neighborhood school, not to mention the amount of money it is going to take to not only make Crosswinds a viable elementary school, but also the additions (including a breezeway between WE & WMS!) to WMS for the benefit of a small number of district students and not be outraged by these plans? Why am I being asked to pay for your child to have what basically amounts to a private-school-like education and also accept the fact that there are possibly 27 fulltime regular teacher positions being cut because the district is out of money? It would seem to me that the first items that should be cut would be the extraneous programs like SI that DO NOT benefit the entire community but rather an elitist few before general services to the entire district are even considered to be cut. They don't even have parent-paid transportation for "choice programs" on the table. Get your priorities straight.
MNHockeyMama March 06, 2013 at 08:42 PM
Lev - I'm sorry, you said I was "rude"? Excuse me, but I think that forcing neighborhood kids out of their school for the benefit of "choice program" kids is rude. Gimme a break.
SJ March 06, 2013 at 10:35 PM
The district has busing for the choice programs (including Valley Crossing) because it has decided that it opens up access to all students. Eliminate busing, and the program truly becomes one in which the "haves" (SAHPs, white collar workers with flexible schedules, high income earners who can pay for help) benefit at the expense of the "have-nots" (shift workers, people w/o flexible jobs or telecommuting options, people w/o disposable income). A criticism of SI in an earlier incarnation was that it was elitist, because only the well-off could manage the transportation. You can't claim we are elitist and then try to take away one of the things that helps level the playing field the most. Why do you think SI provides a private-school like environment? The teachers aren't better educated than the other teachers in the district, the parents aren't fundamentally different from the parent population of other district schools, the physical plant is not nicer than other schools, 2/3 of classes are larger, curriculum isn't different (other than language of instruction), etc. I am curious about this perception of our school, since I hear it a lot. As for why you pay for services you don't use - well, my kids are never going to play high school sports, so why should I pay for that? I pay for it because I live in a community, and just because something isn't personally valuable doesn't mean it isn't valuable to the community. My school is not a sacred cow; why should yours be?
save woodbury elem March 15, 2013 at 03:19 AM
-SI should be made to provide their own transportation exactly like an intra-district transfer. The district will provide free transportation to the boundary school. -Accordin to district figures, the following elem schools have classrrom space: armstrong, cottage grove, crestview, grey cloud, hillside, newport, pine hill, pullman, red rock, royal oaks, valley crossing, woodbury elem -According to district figures, the following midle schools have classroom space: cottage grove, lake, oltman, woodbury The total school population thru 2016 is projected to be slow growth -There is plenty of space in the elem and middle schools -I hope the district does not get Crosswinds because we can't afford operating it, remodeling it, and building onto WE. The district is projected to be 27 million in the red with another 25 million in debt service. They need to re-new referendums as well - If we do get it, SI should go there. SI legislators are making the district get Crosswinds. This should be their school. They have no right to kick WE out -We will not be kicked out of our school. This is OUR school -Please note--We will vote out the 5 school board members up for re-election this fall and reverse detrimental decisions made the following year -The Board are the final decision makers regardless of what the 3 superintendents do or say


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