At meeting, public criticize closing of North High

North High meeting
Monday's community meeting drew more than 200 people to North High School's Auditorium. The district's superintendent, Bernadeia Johnson, is proposing North be closed, over a three year period - to allow all current students to still graduate from the school.
MPR Photo/Tom Weber

Dozens of students, alumni, and residents spoke out last night against the proposed closure of Minneapolis's North High School.

Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson says low enrollment and student achievement are the main reasons for recommending the closure. There are just 265 students at North this year, a decline of about 75% since 2004.

Critics say the district set North up to fail, in part, by closing the elementary and middle schools that fed into North.

Carol Pass says a North closure would affect the entire city.

"Don't cut the soul out of this school because it is the soul of the entire urban core of Minneapolis," Pass said.

Directing her message at school board members, pass said they are devastating the public school system in Minneapolis in the urban core if they lose the school.

Congressman Keith Ellison also said in a letter that was read at the meeting that North should stay open until there's a larger discussion of wider issues facing north Minneapolis.

"Removing the neighborhood high school will produce an anemic commercial climate; raise doubts about public safety, and the effect is the mixing together of ingredients to create a slum," Ellison wrote in the letter.

"If you close this school without better reasons, without first giving it a chance against the other schools, without saying 'this is what we want in Minneapolis,' you're telling parents that this school system is dying a slow death, and people will pull their kids out of schools all across the city," said Mary Lou Williams, a north side resident and the wife of school board member T. Williams.

The school board is scheduled to vote on the North closure on November 9.

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