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Wayzata Waves Goodbye to WMEP

Deena Kassem, Senior Staff Writer

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The Wayzata school district is withdrawing from the West Metro Education Program (WMEP) according to Chair of School Board and Wayzata West Metro Education Program representative Sarah Johansen.

According to the WMEP website, the program “is an equity-focused collaborative for student success” that strives “to work intelligently and strategically to solve disparities amongst student groups,” and deals with “the urgent and complex issues of racial equity, student success, educator capacity and strategic decision-making.”

“WMEP is meant to be a professional development and student service organization for its member districts,” said Johansen.

Wayzata Public School’s Executive Director of Teaching and Learning and District Liaison to WMEP Jill Johnson said, “The purpose of the West Metro Program is to provide timely and effective high impact training and development programs for leaders and staff of its member districts. This training targets the improvement of their cultural competence and effectiveness that will assist in closing opportunity and learning gaps among groups of students. In so doing, the predictability of student achievement will be eliminated.”

West Metro Education Program Executive Director Dr. Kimberly Matier stated Wayzata originally joined WMEP in 1997. According to Johansen, Wayzata joined the program “to have access to high-quality professional development.”

The West Metro Education Program was originally created in 1989 “ in effort to comply with state desegregation rules that were in effect at the time. In the late 1990s, the state Legislature appropriated money to create the inter district schools offering programs to prompt voluntary desegregation,” according to the Sun Sailor.

WMEP is responsible for programs such as professionsonal training development, Dare 2 Be Real (D2BR), and the Civil Rights Research Experience, according to Johansen. Although Wayzata plans to leave WMEP,  the district will still continue the D2BR initiative without WMEP, which is possible because it is its own program created by Anthony Gallaway and Dr. Patrick Duffy.  

Currently, there are 6 member school districts in the program including Wayzata, St. Louis Park, St. Anthony, Minneapolis, Robbinsdale, and Eden Prairie according to the WMEP website. Originally there were 11 members of WMEP, but following the program’s transformation in 2015, 2 districts withdrew from the program in 2016, 3 more districts followed in 2017.

According to Johansen, all six current districts submitted letters of intent to withdraw from the program in December of 2017. If the districts commit to their letters, their withdrawal will be effective at the start of the next fiscal year, July 1st, 2018.

According to the Sun Sailor, the Wayzata district contributes about $150,000 annually as a program member. The WMEP Education website states, “All of the West Metro Education program’s activities are funded through Integration Revenue from its member districts.”

According to Dr. Kimberly Matier, the Wayzata School District, along with four other districts, pays 16 dollars per student, while one district pays 13 dollars per student. Districts have the option to pay 13, 16, or 19 dollars per student depending on the level of membership they choose to hold with WMEP.

The contributions from member districts pay “for the day to day operations of the organization and for staff,” according to Dr. Matier. 45% of the money paid towards the program from its member districts contributes to professional development and Student Programs, another 33% goes toward operations, and 18% towards the administration of the program.

Johansen said, “due to the number of changes WMEP has gone through throughout time, our return of investment, the value of what we are getting, has really declined.”

Johnson said, “The program is no longer meeting our professional development needs.”

In 2015, the program went a major change when gave up control of its magnet schools and had a change in leadership. According to the Sun Sailor “the downtown Minneapolis school was conveyed to Minneapolis Public Schools and the  school in Crystal went to Robbinsdale Area Schools.”

Dr. Matier said, “WMEP changed their leadership structure after the conveyance of Fair School Downtown and Fair School Crystal. Since WMEP was no longer operating schools, there was no need for a superintendent.”

According to Johansen, the Wayzata and Orono school districts are partnering together to create the Wayzata-Orono College Readiness Institute,starting this summer. The institute will be “a summer, cross-district college readiness program that will focus on college and career readiness for learners who have been underrepresented in Advanced Placement-type courses and/or have not achieved college/career readiness.”

As for the future of WMEP, “It is unclear at this time what this will mean for WMEP. The board must determine the level of viability the organization has to continue its mission and vision within its current structure,” said Dr. Matier. “Therefore, it is our hope that we find a way to continue the mission of the organization.”

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Wayzata Waves Goodbye to WMEP