Parents fight K-8 school relocation

Marcy Open School was slated to move because of student overcrowding.

Alix Herzing reads a letter to the Minneapolis Public School Board during a board meeting at the John B. Davis Education and Service Center. Herzing, the mother of a first grader at the school,  thanked Associate Superintendent Michael Thomas for canceling his proposal to move Marcy Open School.

Holly Peterson

Alix Herzing reads a letter to the Minneapolis Public School Board during a board meeting at the John B. Davis Education and Service Center. Herzing, the mother of a first grader at the school, thanked Associate Superintendent Michael Thomas for canceling his proposal to move Marcy Open School.

Allison Kronberg

Officials have abandoned a proposal to move the K-8, 715-student Marcy Open School to another building after a heated and emotional emergency meeting last Tuesday.

Now, staff and parents are considering alternative solutions to the school’s overcrowding problem.

“We have great staff, we have great teachers, we have a great principal and we have a great building, and I want to be here until eighth grade,” said Marcy Open fifth grader Beatrice Kennedy-Logan, addressing the crowd last week. Her statement ended the meeting with passionate applause.

Minneapolis schools Associate Superintendent Michael Thomas said a growing student body is a challenge for the school.

“We’re at about 70 students over capacity right now, which could be two more classrooms,” said Marcy Open School Principal Donna Andrews, “but our building is not very big, so there are no classrooms left.”

The building, located at 415 Fifth Ave. SE, also lacks staff parking and its design isn’t up to current district standards, Andrews said.

Parents were first notified of the meeting and potential change via an automatic calling system at 11 a.m. Monday. They received official notice through a letter sent home with students the day of the meeting.

Parents said they were opposed to the potential move because the school benefits from being near the Mississippi River, museums and the University of Minnesota.

“There is a tremendous sense of community,” said Ron Wacks, father of a former Marcy Open student.

University students volunteer at the school to fulfill degree requirements.

“The input from University of Minnesota education students is invaluable,” said Shannon Williams, a mother of two Marcy Open students and parent council member.

University of Minnesota business marketing education senior Jacquelyn Rupp works with fourth- and fifth-grade students at the school.

“I don’t know if we would have been able to meet with [the students] as easily as we do” had the school moved, she said.

Alix Herzing, a mother and aunt of students at the school, stood before the Minneapolis Public School Board meeting Tuesday to read a letter to Thomas, thanking him for listening to the community and halting the move.

“We are still negatively affected by and concerned about issues of overcrowding at Marcy Open School and throughout the district,” Herzing said. “We would very much like to be involved in the planning to help find solutions to this ongoing problem.”

Thomas said the situation is an opportunity for parents, school officials and community members to start thinking about solutions for accommodating students.

“I have had several parents contacting me saying, ‘We heard what you were saying, and maybe what we should start to do is work on how to support the school and to reduce the class sizes,’” Andrews said. “So, maybe, all of this excitement is going to go for a good purpose in the long run.”