District 16 considers withdrawing from EMID collaborative

The Spring Lake Park District 16 School Board is considering withdrawing from the East Metro Integration District 6067, a collaborative to which it has belonged for the past five years.

EMID has 10 member districts, including Spring Lake Park, which work together “to address the educational issues resulting from dramatic demographic changes and inequities,” according to EMID’s website. “Through EMID, nine suburban districts partner with St. Paul Public Schools to provide culturally responsive learning opportunities that enable all students to participate fully in the social, economic and democratic lives of their communities.”

Most of the nine suburban districts mentioned lie in the southeastern metro. Spring Lake Park is surrounded by districts in the Northwest Suburban Integration District, which maintains a mission similar to EMID’s.

With no neighboring districts participating in EMID, “any kind of meaningful collaboration becomes a real challenge,” Superintendent Jeff Ronneberg said at a work session Jan. 28.

“In general, I would say it’s not a very good fit,” said Marilynn Forsberg, a Spring Lake Park school board member who is also serving as vice chair of the EMID board.

District 16 initially joined EMID because they offered a variety of programming options, according to Forsberg. “That is still the case,” she said. “They’re doing a lot of professional development and a lot of things with cultural competency.”

But Spring Lake Park sees minimal participation in EMID programs from its parents, students and staff, and the programs don’t come free.

Districts receive integration revenue from the state and local levy with participation in a collaborative. The district holds on to most dollars, but puts some into the collaborative with which it is involved.

The percentage of students of color in the district determines how much integration funding a district receives.

One-third of Spring Lake Park’s more than 5,000 students are non-white.

The district received $728,000 in integration revenue this year – up $200,000 from last year with a formula change – and $174,000 was turned over to EMID, according to Amy Schultz, director of business services for District 16.

The board expressed its wish to see those funds better utilized at a work session Jan. 28 and recommended an order to withdraw from EMID.

EMID requires member districts to submit any order to withdraw 18 months before actually doing so.

“It’s an exploratory time. We can change our mind anytime during that 18 months,” Forsberg said.

The only downside to submitting the order is that if the collaborative dissolves in the next 18 months, Spring Lake Park will not receive any money from the fund balance.

South Washington County Schools and Stillwater Area Schools have also submitted to withdraw.

Olivia Koester is at
[email protected]