New North High School a MPS priority

Dear North Minneapolis families and residents,

Creating a new North High School that successfully prepares students to be productive global citizens remains one of my top priorities. Our youth in North Minneapolis must have a rigorous educational experience, and our community must have a community school that it can be proud of.

My commitment to building a new program at North remains firm. We are just beginning the process, but I have been encouraged by the strong community support and engagement in these early stages. Despite the rumors, speculation and recent media coverage, my promise has remained the same throughout this process: North High School will remain open.

A new model will be launched in the fall of 2012. The current educational model will be phased out over the next three years, and it will be replaced with a new model that has a proven track record of preparing high school students for college and the workforce.

Community engagement continues to be a vital part of any design for a new North. We know we can’t do this work alone; we need the continued input and support from the community as we work to understand what kind of program is the best fit for future North students.

We are working closely with the North High Coalition Committee to meet our shared goal of 125 ninth-grade students for the 2011-12 school year. We honor our agreement to give North High an additional six weeks (as we extended the deadline date to March 31) to recruit students as we continue monitoring the enrollment situation and supporting recruitment efforts.

We believe that the new school design and the process for working with the community can serve as a national model. From day one, I have been adamant that we will partner with community members to select an expert consultant to facilitate the design of the new program.

The three consultants who are finalists all have proven track records in the area of community engagement.

As part of the interview process, we have asked that five members of the community be selected by the community to serve on the interview team for selecting the consultant.

Community members will also have the opportunity to learn about the proposals and participate in a Q & A session with the three finalists. The consultant will be selected based on valued feedback from the community and district staff and is expected to begin Phase 1 of the design process in early March.

The core of the work at Minneapolis Public Schools is to ensure that all students have the opportunity to reach their greatest potential. The new North High School design and community engagement process will establish a high-quality high school in the North community worthy of the North High School tradition and historic reputation. Thank you for your continued support of the academic ambitions our schools and communities have for Minneapolis youth.

Bernadeia H. Johnson is superintendent of Minneapolis Public Schools.