It is the responsibility of the school board to set the direction for our schools. They have been developing a strategic plan over the last two years and gotten input from all sectors of the Edina community. The overall goal says “the mission of the Edina Public Schools, working in partnership with the family and the community, is to educate each individual to reach their full potential.”
On November 19, 2019 the Edina School Board voted (4-3) to add Honors classes to the High School and Middle Schools. These steps will add options for our kids to take enriched classes throughout their academic career.
Over the last 2 years, 322 students, who were Edina residents, have left Edina schools for other schools. Each departure cost the Edina schools about $8,500 per student. That is over $2,700,000. While losses are reduced by allowing students from other school districts to enroll in Edina, that is still a big fiscal hit for the school district. The major reason students departed Edina was for rigorous academics. This policy hopes to keep more resident students staying home
I commend the school board for getting the best information available and making this decision.
In the High School, this policy adds honors classes in 9th and 10th grade English which do not exist currently. Edina is the only school out of 37 comparable metro schools without an enriched option.
Middle School students currently can opt into enriched social studies in 7th grade, but not 8th. They may opt into enriched science in 8th grade, but not 7th. They may opt into enriched language arts in 7th and 8th grades, but not in the 6th grade.
Over 50% of Edina students rank in the top 20% of all Minnesota students. These proposed classes will be addressing potentially half of the students, not just a few.
These new classes will help all students reach their potential. The ones who choose an honors class will be challenged academically more than in a class with a wide range of students of differing capabilities. The students in the regular class will have classmates of similar capabilities. Their teachers will be better able to focus on their needs. The goal is for all kids to meet or exceed academic progress goals, which is not always happening now.
These changes need to be made now in order to have everything ready for the next academic year. While the school board sets the direction, the Teaching and Learning committee and selected teachers need to put together the curriculum. Teachers need to be trained in the new classes. There is a great deal of work needed between now and the 2020/21 school year. When students are selecting classes for Fall 2020 these options must be available to them, otherwise a whole year is lost where our kids do not have these options.
There were concerns regarding the costs of making these changes, but there is also a cost of not making these changes. I believe that with these changes, students can better achieve their potential and the expense of students departing the school district will be reduced.