The future of two East Metro Integration District schools might involve the state-run Perpich Center for Arts Education.
Leaders of the East Metro Integration District (EMID) are discussing the district's future, including whether to close Harambee Elementary in Maplewood and Crosswinds Arts & Science School in Woodbury.
The little-known district was created in the 1990s as a co-op, of sorts. It drew students from 10 east metro districts, including St. Paul, to create integrated schools.
One option being considered is to keep the schools open but have another entity operate them.
The head of the Perpich Center, Sue Mackert, has met with EMID parents, as well as interim superintendent Jerry Robicheau and state Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. Cassellius is a former EMID superintendent.
Mackert said she wants the schools to stay open but it's up to EMID to decide.
"We'll play whatever role we feel is appropriate for the Perpich Center and for the viability of maintaining these schools," Mackert said.
Mackert said EMID and Perpich already have several "synergies." Crosswinds already has a large focus on arts and several of its alums have attended Perpich; EMID currently offers grades K-10, while Perpich offers 11th and 12th grade, which would potentially complete the K-12 cycle; and both entities have, as a major tenant, operations that offer professional development and youth programming to teachers and students outside their schools.
"Their educational delivery and the cultural emphasis and the teaching of the whole student very much mirrors what we try to help schools do," Mackert said.
It's unclear what kind of state legislation would be needed if Perpich were to assume control of the two schools; the school operates as an independent state agency with a campus and dorms in Golden Valley.
The EMID board which is made up of one school board member from each of the 10 member districts is scheduled to decide the schools' fates by year's end.
Christina Gillette, the chair of the EMID board and also a member of the West St. Paul school board, said discussions are still too preliminary to know whether Perpich and EMID have a future together. Mackert will speak at an EMID board meeting later this month.
The interim superintendent of EMID, Jerry Robicheau, did not return calls seeking comment.