Integration Task Force Considers Metro-wide Integration District

The Integration Revenue Replacement Advisory Task Force is picking up steam and the discussions are getting interesting. You can check out our own updates on our task force page, but one bit of today’s discussion deserves special attention from EMID families.

Scott Thomas, a co-chair of the task force, presented the third draft of his “One Minnesota” proposal to the task force. In it, he proposes:

4. Establish one collaborative Metropolitan Integration School District that folds in the services of existing integration districts to create efficiencies and eliminate duplication of services. This Collaborative Metropolitan School District serves all metro-area districts within the seven county area that receive integration revenue, compels them to participate, and assumes the following responsibilities:

  1. Develop and operate a choice program similar to the Choice is Yours that promote public school choice and integration across the metropolitan area.
    1. Evaluate the program and make recommendations for modifications.
  2. Operate existing magnet schools (FAIR, Harambee, Crosswinds, etc.) that function under one administrative structure (Admin, Human Resources, Finance etc.).
  3. Efficiently plan for future regional magnet schools in cooperation with metro districts.
  4. Develop a regional transportation structure that is efficient and maximizes choice within the seven-county metropolitan area.
  5. Review and approve transportation plans of districts for the purposes of integration.
  6. Coordinate and provide high quality service for:
    1. Professional development
    2. [sic] [there is no item two in the draft]
    3. Conducting research and collect data for metro-area schools on the uses of One Minnesota revenue.
    4. Become a “Center of Excellence” for best practices of integration, equity, and achievement and support districts with training.
    5. Transportation services to choice schools.
  7. Facilitate school choice lotteries for inter-district magnet schools.
  8. Establish a governance structure using the open appointments process for an initial school board that will develop the long-term governing structure.

The task force talked extensively about this proposal, with heavy resistance from Katherine Kersten in particular, who likened it to plans 20 years ago to form a “mega district.” Thomas reiterated that he was trying, in this proposal, to capture economies of scale for integration districts that they currently lack. Of course, as we’ve seen in EMID, the devil is in the details, in particular the governance structure would be a very touchy subject. Still, this proposal would hold out significant hope of giving Harambee and Crosswinds the footing they need to become sustainable schools. It is the most positive development yet from this task force.

Of course, they don’t finalize their report for a couple weeks yet, so this is by no means sure to get into the final recommendations. In fact, even today the discussion moved on and more or less left this recommendation behind. It will be interesting to see if it is still there next week.

If you feel like writing to the task force, they can be reached at