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Osseo School Proposal Reduces Crowded Basswood Elementary, Angers Some Parents

Residents are invited to learn more about the proposed boundary adjustment by attending an information session in Basswood’s Media Center on Tuesday or Friday.

Basswood Elementary.
Basswood Elementary.

Osseo Schools are considering a boundary adjustment proposal that will reduce overcrowding at Basswood Elementary. But this proposal has made some parents of the 149 affected Basswood students angry.

Some Maple Grove residents' assigned elementary school will be Oak View Elementary instead of Basswood Elementary effective July 1. Pending School Board approval on Jan. 21 at 6 p.m., Oak View will serve students in grades K-6 beginning in 2014-2015.

"I have a first grade son who is devastated that he may have to leave the school that he’s come to love," said Rachel La Fleur. "We will now be forced to leave the school which is less than two miles from our house – straight up Vicksburg, through only 1 stoplight – and take him to a school 5 miles away. Basswood is the closest school to Plymouth, so it makes no sense that we are getting rezoned." 

Residents are invited to learn more about the proposed boundary adjustment by attending an information session in Basswood’s Media Center on Tuesday, Jan. 14, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. or Friday, Jan. 17, from 8-9 a.m. District staff will provide information and answer questions.  

Over the past few years, student enrollment at Basswood has grown, particularly in the lower elementary grades. In addition, with the uptick in the economy, new construction has resumed, adding two new housing developments to the current attendance area, according to the district. 

"Many families believe that the process that has unfolded is deceitful as there was no communication with or feedback collected from any families in census area 284 prior to the recommendation being provided to the School Board," said Chad Wieneke, a parent of a fifth grade student at Basswood and a 2014-2015 kindergartener.

"It should be noted that Basswood is one of the top two performing schools out of 17 elementary schools in District 279 as measured by MCA test scores, whereas Oak View Elementary ranks in the bottom 40 percent (11th out of 17) of the district by the same MCA test score measure," Wieneke added.

Fifth- and sixth-graders may choose to stay at Basswood until they advance to secondary school, and the school district would continue to transport them to Basswood. 

Even if they have older siblings who are choosing to remain at Basswood, students entering grades K-4 in Fall 2014 would attend Oak View, along with the fifth and sixth graders who choose to attend Oak View instead of Basswood. Open enrollment to Basswood will be closed in order to stabilize enrollment. 

“We are looking forward to our opportunity to learn about the process and input that Ms. Reisgraf and Ms. Maguire utilized to make their recommendation to reassign census area 284 to Oak View Elementary," Wieneke said. "In addition, we expect to hear from District Administration regarding the short and long term strategy for Oak View Elementary as well as the long term vision for our overall school district.”

La Fleur believes there was no forethought into this plan.

"Make a move this year, move sixth grade out next year, then possibly more changes," she said. "All of these are detrimental to the young children who are trying to get a great education. Trust, consistency and a strong relationship with their school are all components of success. Strong communities equal strong schools, and that’s what we have here." 

So far, over 400 concerned residents have signed an online petition entitles called 'Basswood Elementary Boundary Petition."

From the district: "At this time, administration has not developed any specific high school boundary adjustment proposals. A rumor is circulating that inaccurately assumes that an elementary boundary adjustment under consideration at this time to address overcrowding (moving one census area from Basswood to Oak View Elementary) also includes a high school reassignment to Osseo Senior High. This rumor is not accurate."

There's more going on during the boundary adjustment than Basswood, a separate proposed boundary adjustment would reassign Census Area 265 from North View Junior High to Maple Grove Junior High, creating a consistent junior high advancement pattern for students at Cedar Island, according to the district.

Find more information from the district here.

• Also see What You Need To Know About The Basswood Elementary Boundary Proposal

Is this fair? Do you thing think the district gave parents enough notification? Tells us below.

Dawn Holtz Slimmer January 13, 2014 at 01:02 PM
I wouldn't hold my breath that the District will change their position regardless of parent input. They have an agenda and nothing affects that. You only have to look back a few years when the Administration ignored hundreds of pleas and "repurposed" several neighborhood schools and bussed 100s of students to other schools instead of attending a school within walking distance. They are NOT to be trusted or believed.
anonymous January 13, 2014 at 01:17 PM
I'm guessing the OV test scores went down the past 6 years due to the "campus" school model which bused kids from the previously lower performing FO over to OV. How did OV perform in 2008 before the campus schools were set up? The campus model was a huge mistake and it's too bad it took the district 6 years to figure that out. It looks like the new boundaries for OV are pretty much the same as they were in 2008, except for the kids getting shifted over from BW.
Haley Barton January 13, 2014 at 01:44 PM
Communication and a master long-term plan are key.
Lee January 13, 2014 at 03:05 PM
Some of these kids were just relocated to Basswood from Oakview in the last reorganization, which is doubly painful for them. I'm amazed that all this is coming to light at the last minute. Maybe they could have mentioned this topic in the hundreds of emails, flyers, and phone calls we all received begging us to approve the levy for the schools. Sadly, it appears their communications skills have suddenly failed them when they aren't asking for more money.
Adam Benjamin January 13, 2014 at 03:08 PM
I would say that engaging stakeholders is a key to passing any initiative. I live in Census 284 and have heard ZERO communication. When first made aware of "the proposal," studies had already been conducted and recommendations were made. Then a VERY aggressive rollout/vote was slated. I still have heard ZERO. I did get an invite from a parent of a student at Basswood to attend an info session, two weeks before the vote. I'll be there Tuesday. In addition, open enrolled students within the district who elect not to attend their Elementary but would rather attend Basswood, can stay? And my kids who live within the schools boundary will get carved out? Engage all of those affected and share your vision.
Lee January 13, 2014 at 03:17 PM
Oddly, Adam, I have repeatedly read statements that all parents whose kids would be affected have been notified - that was the response I got when I tried to ask several sources, including the Basswood PTO. It turns out I am not affected, but based on the stealth rollout of this initiative, I figured that statement wasn't completely accurate. When they make these decisions, it doesn't just affect the kids either - parents look at school districts when making buying decisions on a home. Going from the second best school in the district to one of the bottom 40% will have an impact on home value, salability, and many other factors too. The part they aren't even talking about yet is the plan to shift as many as 400 students from Maple Grove Senior High to Osseo High. That plan gets "discussed" after they approve the grade reconfiguration. We only found out about this whole issue because of a coach in a sports organization who became concerned about the kids on his team ending up eventually going to Osseo instead MG High. Thank goodness he warned us.
Nick J January 13, 2014 at 04:36 PM
I have to point out to parents on here that our job in raising our kids is to teach them how to maturely handle life when they are no longer in our homes. I don't know about you, but where I work it is very common for teams to change, projects to be re-organized, transfers to new offices to happen etc. We are expected to handle this as mature people and keep doing our jobs. How is this any different with our kids? Instead of whining about boundary changes use this as an opportunity to teach the kids how to deal with something that will happen more times in their lives than anyone would like. C'mon folks, step up and teach kids to deal with things the right way and skip the whining and complaining.
AJ January 13, 2014 at 04:41 PM
The last time the district made significant changes parents spent endless hours, time, money, energy, etc. trying to come up with different options so hundreds of children in the district would not have to be re-purposed and moved. Families went as far as requesting District email to get a better understanding of what was happening and what was not being told to the public. Another group set up a website with findings : http://blog.district279united.com Basically, even though the district says "we listen," "we care," etc. they do what they want. As someone else already mentioned, how sad is it that after the last time they passed a levy that they took it upon themselves to make significant changes. They don't care what you think. They aren't transparent, and they spin the data any way they want. One of the district admins told us all last time that "young families aren't buying the big houses in Maple Grove" as we stressed that we needed more elementary space on the West side of the district due to the growth. As we can see now, young families ARE buying these houses and based on poor decisions 5-6 years ago, they are looking to further displace more kids. It's pathetic. Try as you might, but their minds are made up. If they want to change school configurations, they will do it whether the community supports it or not. The start of Parnassus came about from a family in the CI/OV/FO mess. Good for them for taking charge and making change. Too bad for the district that they lost families and continue to lose families based on their poor decision making.
purdygirl3 January 13, 2014 at 06:45 PM
District 279 does not care about the needs of your children or even who they are or what their names are. Your children are a number that fits nicely into their agenda. They look over each attendance area and find the one that has the numbers that will make the move fit into their agenda We were bussed 5 miles away to another school. We had been walkers at our original school. The reasoning? They did not want the apartment dwelling children to feel picked on. Those kids were already bussed to our neighborhood school. We tried to talk to the school board. They smiled and nodded and said they understood. And then did exactly what they had proposed in the beginning. Make your voice heard by voting. We need new blood on this school board. The school board has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to independent consultants, and then ignored their suggestions. Fiscally responsible? I think not. Best wishes to the families that are being moved. I hope you can make a difference. There is a long standing history of the school board making these types of decisions. The decisions in my opinion are stupid, but the school board continues to do what they want. The district is a business. A big business whose interest is money.
Lee January 13, 2014 at 08:51 PM
Nick - with all due respect, you are missing the point. This isn't about teaching kids to "deal with things the right way." This is about many things. First off, moving kids from the school with the second best test scores to the eleventh place school - should a parent respond with apathy and let their kids be sent to an inferior school? When they change the boundaries, it affects their property values - parents look very hard at the schools before they buy a home. It affects their schedules - busing kids five miles away is a hardship for some, and makes no sense when there are kids that live a lot closer to Oakview for example. And what kind of message does it send to your kids when you react to adversity by...caving, laying down, and calling it a life lesson? I'd much rather teach my kids that if you don't like something, you speak up; that when faced with what you perceive as injustice, you protest.
Lee January 13, 2014 at 08:55 PM
purdygirl3 - I agree wholeheartedly about new blood on the school board. I got involved a little bit when the previous levy failed, and had a nice discussion with a board member here on Patch about why I thought it failed, and how they could fix the situation. I think they listened to half of my argument - the part about doing a better job of selling it. They ignored the real reasons it failed the first time - poor spending decisions and a history of not listening to the input of the parents. So they sold it better, and scheduled it for an off-year election when they'd have the best chance of success. I don't trust them either, and I think we need to elect a slate of candidates who will listen to the parents whose kids attend those schools, and not the waste money on consultants, high tech projection systems, and sports domes instead of in the classroom where it belongs.
anonymous January 13, 2014 at 09:55 PM
Oak View was built on a plot of land right next to Cedar Island. Families who live within walking distance of one school, also live within walking distance of the other. Historically, CI was a "neighborhood" school, and OV kids were all bused - mainly from the west side of 494, and from the south side of Bass Lake Road, east of 494. Not exactly the slums. Test scores at OV went down due to the campus school decision. FO was a failed school based on the NCLB rules, and when kids from FO were bused to OV, the test scores at OV not surprisingly went down. I would like to see a listing of school rankings from 2008 - prior to the campus school decision. I'm guessing OV and BW were pretty close at that time. Change is not always bad, but it is hard. My daughter was switched away from CI to OV for 6th grade in 2009, the 1st year of the campus experiment. We had no choice to stay at CI as it was converted to a k-3 school. Had she been younger, we may have looked into open enrolling elsewhere. We could tell that the campus model was a bad decision from the start, and as I said before, it is too bad that it took the district 6 years to figure this out. Fixing the campus schools back to the k-6 (or k-5) is the right thing to do. Changing boundaries is very emotional, and will be even more emotional if the district decides to move to the 9-12 high school model as 200 students each from MGSH and PCSH will most likely get moved to OSH. Attend the work sessions and feedback sessions to learn about the district plans, and to voice your concerns.
Mark Kulda January 14, 2014 at 02:30 PM
The voters get what they voted for. Remember there was another boundary controversy when Weaver Lake was switched from a neighborhood school to a STEM school. It had the second highest test scores in the district behind Rush Creek and just ahead of Basswood. There were a lot of angered parents and they organized a slate of three new school board candidates to help get fresh blood onto the board to make better decisions. But only one of them won and now the board is still making poor decisions. So if you want better decisions from the board then make better choices when the candidates are presented at election time.
Nick J January 14, 2014 at 03:43 PM
Lee- good feedback. Is sending kids from the 2nd best school to the 11th best school good? No. But everything in your response points to a "me first" attitude. "My kids won't get as good of an education", "My home value will go down", "My time is wasted by having to send kids to a school further away". Test scores are a big picture indicator. As parents if we invest in our kids ourselves, then the test scores of the whole school won't matter. Your kids will be fine. If you think the school is the only entity responsible for your kid's success you are mistaken. I won't win any argument with you in this forum. You teach your kids and I'll teach mine. Good luck.
Matt January 14, 2014 at 04:19 PM
All, I would like to get this forum back on track on the issue at hand and where district leaders and the school board needs to focus their efforts. 1. Communication - district leaders and the school board need to be better with the administrative boundary changes as it impacts many people's lives and provide a forum other than email to receive feedback before final proposals are handed down for a vote. Two weeks is far from enough time. 2. Open enrollment - the policy on the district website on open enrollment happens until the capacity of a program, class, grade level, or school building become full. The school board and district leaders should have cut off open enrollment many years ago at Basswood and not moved a census area that in fact moves less kids than are open enrolled today to another elementary school. 3. What other proposals were considered and provide detailed analysis of those other alternatives. Quote from the school board "Decisions made are made in the best long-term interest of students and the school district as a whole. I ask is that really haphappening here?
Lee January 14, 2014 at 04:22 PM
Nick - again, with all due respect, you are missing the point. First off - my kids are not affected by this. But are you honestly saying that if it were your kids, you'd just throw up your hands and not fight for them? I think, quite honestly, that the level of success a child derives from school is inversely related to the parent's involvement. In other words, the children of involved parents derive less benefit from a school than those whose parents are not involved. That said, I will fight against bad decisions, whether they affect my kids or not, because it's the right thing to do. That's hardly a "me first" attitude. And further, I'll get involved because this district seems to have a very callous attitude towards the parents whose kids attend these schools, and seem to only be bothered to reach out when they need more money from us. The fact that so many folks are reacting with surprise to these developments suggests that this was supposed to be one of those under the radar decisions because they knew there would be pushback. My issue is as much with their obfuscation as it is with the potential changes. As for those changes, transferring kids in and of itself is not necessarily an issue, but if they had announced plans to improve those schools alongside the boundary change announcements there would likely be zero pushback. Instead, the district chooses (again) to just ram through things and expect we will all sit by and accept them. So I'll fight for your kids as much as I would for mine, because it's the right thing to do. Our kids deserve every last thing we can do for them.
Kristen Peek January 14, 2014 at 05:00 PM
Both my kids went to OV. Both are straight A students. My daughter has a perfect 4.0 as a 9th grader(and she takes advanced Math, Science, English and Social Studies) and my son got straight A's his first year at MGJH taking advanced Math, Science and English. It is the parents responsibility to make sure their kids are getting good grades and learning. My son was booted from high math at OV going into 6th grade even though he tested 3 levels above 6th grade. I just fought for him to be put back in high math and they put him in it and he did great. He is now in HP math at MGJH and getting straight A's. The bashing of OV test scores are people just not understanding the make up of the school. It depends on the child. Just because your kid goes to other Elementary schools does not mean they are going to get a better education. It is the PARENTS responsibility to monitor and keep on top of their kids education. An overcrowded school like Bass Lake is seems to me is not better for kids. I am glad OV is going back to an all grade school I did have issues with the way it was and did butt heads with the principal there but she listened to what I said and made changes...If you don't like what the school board is doing then run for the school board, volunteer at the schools, form parents groups(we did that at OV when my son was in 1st grade and helped the teacher with a special pull out group of kids that were above grade level to keep them interested and not get bored). Some of the upset is also due to certain sports associations being afraid they will lose MG kids to Osseo down the road.....hence the e-mail from the President of the OMGFA that was sent out. Maple Grove is a quickly growing community and the school boundaries are going to change because of the new homes going up and the amount of kids in the schools. Everybody just needs to take a deep breath. Find out the Truth and not the rumors and roll with the changes if they have to happen. For me my kids are number one and I know they are getting a good education due to their test scores and my interaction (which I am in contact with their teachers constantly and they are back to me) with their teachers. Call the superintendent or a school board member or go to school board meetings. I did all of that when I had some issues and every single person took the time out to talk to me and thank me for bringing my concerns to them. I saw teachers at the board meetings but hardly ever parents. One of the teachers actually thanked me for attending a meeting saying she never see's parents at them. I am sure this was discussed at many meetings but no parents were there so of course they were not hearing the discussions. It will be interesting how everything all turns out. No matter what everyone will never be happy with the outcome. Welcome to life.
Lee January 14, 2014 at 08:30 PM
Tonight's meeting was very heated, and it became obvious that the board and superintendent have already made their decisions, and this was just lip service to make it seem like they were listening. Based on the timing, it seems like this was deliberately hushed until the last minute so no opposition could build. So, here is a petition gaining steam. I urge you to sign it, and to contact anyone you know in the district whether they are affected or not. It could be you next time...think about it. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/basswood-elementary-boundary-petition
Lee January 14, 2014 at 08:30 PM
You will need to copy and paste that link into your browser - Patch does not allow links directly in their comments section.
Lee January 14, 2014 at 08:35 PM
Kristen - I agree with all of that. Four questions, though. First, why was there no notice of this to parents until a formal recommendation had already been made, and only two weeks of public discussion time allowed before the formal vote? And second - why are kids who are in the Basswood area being displaced to a school five miles away, when there are almost as many open enrollees in Basswood as there are kids being displaced. And third - why are the kids who live near Oakview not attending Oakview? Does it really make sense to bus kids five miles to a school the kids who live there don't attend? And last - why not instead send some kids to Rush Creek (who live closer to Rush Creek than they do anyway) or for that matter use some of the tax dollars from all the new families, alongside the millions in levies we just approved, to either add onto Basswood or locate a new school where the new residents are? I'm as angry at the apparent deception by the board and superintendent as I am at the idea of what they are doing. This is just wrong on so many levels.
Kristen Peek January 14, 2014 at 10:02 PM
Just curous has anyone looked at the minutes of past board meetings. I have not but i wonder for how many months this was discussed. I have a feeling it has been on the agenda for months and been discussed. The minutes are for the public and it is also televised.... I don;t think it was hidden just a thought.
Kristen Peek January 14, 2014 at 10:11 PM
Shame on anyone that signs that petition. Instead of trying to keep Basswood an elite top performing school that only "certain entitled kids' can go to why not try to figure out and put your energy into improving the lower performing schools. shame shame
Lee January 14, 2014 at 10:55 PM
What would be shameful is anyone who won't fight for the best education for their kids. This doesn't affect my kids, but I'd like to hope that someone would have my back if the situation were reversed. This isn't about anything more than parents who do t want their kids uprooted for no good reason.
Lee January 14, 2014 at 10:57 PM
I also can't help but notice that you don't address my other points which address the logic of this move. If this involved your children, would you really just let it happen? If so, fair enough.
anonymous January 15, 2014 at 12:29 AM
Ok - here's my shot at answering Lee's questions 1) The initial recommendations for reconfiguration came out in December, with the boundary proposals in early January, and the final vote will come out the end of January. How much time would have been enough? I doubt a few more days, weeks, or months would change many minds 2) This is a valid point. But forcing open-enroll kids out of Basswood would require a policy change that could affect students across the entire district 3) Look at a map. OV and CI pretty much share a playground. They are right next to each other. Kids that live within walking distance of OV also live within walking distance of CI. There aren't enough students in that area to feed both schools so CI - the older of the two schools was kept as a neighborhood school, and OV kids have historically all been bused. Before the campus school decision in 2008, the OV boundaries were very close to what is being proposed for the 2014-15 school year. 4) Rush Creek is close to being overcrowded as well. Instead of moving one area from Basswood to OV, you are now suggesting that BW kids get moved to RC, which would then result in some RC kids getting pushed to FB, which would then cause some FB kids to get shifted to RL, and so on.. all because Basswood parents don't want their kids attending, "THAT school" with "THOSE people"?
Laura January 15, 2014 at 12:31 AM
Mark Kulda- I just wanted to comment that you are partially correct when you say the 2008 parent group only got 1 member on the Board. You are correct that Dean Henke was the only one elected in 2008, from the Dist279United group. However, the following year, one of the founding members and the treasurer of that parent group were elected onto the School Board. Therefore, 3 members of the Dist279United Parent Group, are current members of the 6 member Board.
dan January 15, 2014 at 11:54 PM
I'm confused. Basswood is overcrowd and they need to move some kids to other schools. If census area 284 gets their way and they are left in Basswood, who moves and where do they go? Why is this area more important than any other area in Basswood? This area is between areas that now go to Oakview. Seems like a no brainer to move this area.
Lee January 16, 2014 at 09:45 AM
Dan - I dont' pretend to have all (or any!) of the answers, but among the suggestions I have heard were to a) expand Basswood, either temporarily (via trailers) or permanently; b) stop open enrolling kids and let the kids who live in the district stay in their school, perhaps shifting those kids to their regular schools (or perhaps simply refusing future open enrollees would be enough); c) find temporary solutions to the overcrowding for the time being until the grade reconfigurations work themselves out (which should result in fewer kids in Basswood as 6th grade moves to the Jr. High.); or d) build or acquire additional school space in the areas that are growing and feeding into Basswood (west of Vicksburg/Fish Lake Road, etc.) I have no idea if they would work, or if they are affordable, but it does not appear they were considered. Perhaps I'm wrong.

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