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Duluth school district considering boundary changes

The Duluth School Board will vote Tuesday on whether to hire a firm to provide boundary planning services.

The board will have a chance to choose between Northspan, a Duluth-based business and community development consulting company, and Cooperative Strategies, a nationwide education financial and demographic planning company. Northspan’s bid is $19,000 to $24,000 and Cooperative Strategies’ bid is more than $58,900.

“Although it's considerably a higher amount for Cooperative Strategies, the outcomes and products are much greater, too,” superintendent Bill Gronseth told the business committee during its meeting April 16. “There is a website for the process, there are committees, focus groups. Afterwards they work with us with our GIS, transportation mapping and all of the pieces that they know we are going to need because they have taken so many people through this process.”

Gronseth said though he likes that Northspan is local, he recommends hiring Cooperative Strategies. He also said working with school districts is all that Cooperative Strategies does and the district would benefit greatly from its expertise. The company will also focus the rezoning on goals, such as equity, set by the community and the district.

“If it's just numbers, fine, we can do that,” Gronseth said. “But if it is numbers, equity, longevity, do we want to protect neighborhoods, do we want to take in geographical boundaries — all of those pieces are what they've worked through and that's what's really sold me on them.”

Rochester Public Schools recently worked with Cooperative Strategies for their boundary changes, which will go into effect next school year. Gronseth said he got a recommendation for Cooperative Strategies from Rochester’s superintendent Michael Munoz.

The Duluth school district has considered updating boundary lines within the district to help with overcrowding at schools in the past. The most recent discussion occurred in May 2017, when the board voted the measure down due to the belief that the Kansas-based demographer which performed an enrollment analysis wouldn’t be able to handle the process equitably.

The boundary lines have not been redrawn since 2007, which was due to the implementation of the Red Plan.

The regular School Board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the boardroom on the second floor of Old Historic Central High School.

Adelle Whitefoot

Adelle Whitefoot is a Michigan native who moved to Minnesota in Sept. 2014 when she started as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle. She graduated from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich., in 2012 with a bachelor's in English writing and has been a professional photographer since 2011. Whitefoot is the night general assignments reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. 

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