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Eden Prairie School Board Approves Controversial Changes

By Lindsey Seavert, WCCO-TV

EDEN PRAIRIE (WCCO) -- A controversial plan to change school boundaries in Eden Prairie will happen. On Tuesday night, the school board approved boundary changes for elementary schools.

After months of debate, the board voted 4 to 3 to move forward with drawing new boundaries, which will move 1,100 students.

The district rolled out a plan last fall, which it says is an attempt to solve demographic disparities within the 9,700 students in the district.

Administrators claim the new boundaries will balance out capacities of schools, and help close an achievement gap, especially when it comes to diverse populations the district says tend to be segregated under the current boundaries.

In public input, Parent Ahmed Jama urged the school board to support the plan.

"We need to change for the success of all our children," said Jama, although he was the only member of the public testifying in support of the plan Tuesday night.

The plan has been met by fierce opposition from the beginning. Parents whose children would be moved from neighborhood schools asked the district to go back to the drawing board. Many members of the Somali community say they were not informed.

"I'm very disappointed because there wasn't a lot of community input, the Somali community - we were given very little information if anything , not many know what is going on," said Rukia Abdi, an Eden Prairie schools graduate and a member of Crossing Barriers, a group of student leaders advocating for the education of minority students in local schools.

Brenda Tonjes of Eden Prairie walked out of the meeting after the decision was made, saying she wasn't surprised.

"This is not what the people want in Eden Prairie. It's not because we are racist, it's not because we are self-entitled, it's because we want what is best for all kids and we don't believe K-6 is going to do it," said Tonjes.

The district says the proposed boundary map will not be the final map. They will finalize the map in January and the new boundaries will be in place before next fall, which is the 2011 school year.

WCCO-TV's Lindsey Seavert Reports

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