School diversity collaborative plans announced

The 2009-2010 school year will mark the beginning of a new diversity collaborative between District 622 (North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale) and possibly Mounds View and Mahtomedi, Director of Teaching and Learning Troy Miller said at the Dec. 16 board meeting.

In January, the school board voted on a staff recommendation to leave the district's collaborative with the East Metro Integration District (EMID), which started 10 years ago.

The collaborative allowed students in 622 to attend either of EMID's schools, Crosswinds or Harambee, with tuition paid for by integration revenue from the state. One hundred eighty-eight students are enrolled in those schools and can choose to continue there through open enrollment. State intergration revenue allocated to District 622 would still cover the tuition for any open enrollment, but the remainder can go toward the new collaborative.

At the time of District 622's decision to leave EMID, and during the past 10 years, the number of students of color increased from 10 to 33 percent.

Minnesota's desegregation rule allows partner districts to leave EMID when they experience changes in demographics.

Since the decision, District 622 staff have been in talks with Mahtomedi and Mounds View as possible partners in a new collaborative, Miller said at the Dec. 16 meeting.

A draft plan for the new collaborative is in the works and that will be presented to the school board a later date. The topic will be discussed in more detail at the board's Jan. 6 study session.

The main mission of the collabortive is to increase cross-culture interaction, Miller said. Its goals will include student achievement and closing the gap, among others. Miller also shared a few of the collaborative's 18 strategies at the meeting, including hiring a more diverse teaching staff, forming partnerships with students, engaging students of color in extracurricular activities and increasing community involvement.

District 622 will be the "fiscal host" of the collaborative, Miller said and the staff involved want to keep administrative costs at a minimum.

Several groups will be formed, including staff, parents, students, and community members to work on the governance of the new collaborative.

A collaborative coordinator will be hired to work with the district's existing equity coordinators, Miller said. An advisory council for the collaborative will include a school board liason from each district, superintendents, business managers, as well as parent and student representatives.

After the Jan. 6 study session, the District 622 board will be asked to vote on the new collaborative and the plan will be sent to the Minnesota Department of Education for review. Mahtomedi and Mounds View will have to develop their own plans as well. The budget for the collaborative is due in April of next year, Miller said.

"It's been an exciting process," he said.

Katy Zillmer can be reached at or at 651-748-7822.

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