A note about Envision SPPS
I am often asked why I voted yes to the reduced Envision SPPS Plan. Here is my explanation:
Beginning in the summer of 2021 District leadership brought to the board a recommended plan to close, relocate and merge certain schools. The process was something I had had previous experience with. Back in Oakland I had seen how the district had to move to close schools due to low enrollment, gentrification and low birth rates. The experience was traumatic. Many school communities that had grown roots for generations were upturned and relocated over the course of just a few months. This experience led me to warn the district staff that they should have engaged families well before creating the plan. Unfortunately the engagement process was uneven and very disappointing for many schools.
During the presentations I held the district staff to a high standard of explaining their reasoning and methodology. Even though the final plan was far from perfect, I believed that the district’s financial reality needed to be addressed. This is why I voted yes to the reduced Envision SPPS Plan after the schools were removed where there had been no true community engagement and where the schools did not meet the criteria stated in the plan. I believed if we did not move forward with the plan we would soon find ourselves back in the same place.
We were given assurances from SPPS Administration of a post-closure plan that would support the closed schools and also the schools that were remaining open, including the continuation of a holistic review of programming across the district. I had to make a decision of which I was asked to weigh the long term fiscal health of the District and the immediate pain and uprooting of many Saint Paul students, families and educators. I know many people were surprised to hear my ‘Yes’ vote. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.