New Middle School - FAQ
Updated: June 29, 2018
SPPS has a sustained shortage of middle school space that is projected to continue into the foreseeable future. This means there is not enough space for students currently in elementary grades when they reach middle school. In particular, students living on the east side of St. Paul are in need of a comprehensive middle school option.
The need for a new middle school was revealed through the Facilities Master Plan (FMP) planning process, which involved an extensive analysis of student enrollment projections throughout the district.
While the original plan was to build a new middle school for students in Area A, an ideal alternative was presented when the former Crosswinds East Metro Arts and Science School came up for sale. In February 2018, the District purchased Crosswinds which is located in Woodbury, just over St. Paul’s eastern border and close to the areas of the district where middle grades seats are most needed.
The school will reopen the fall of 2019 as an E-STEM middle school.
1. Why did SPPS buy a building outside the district borders?
Acquiring an existing middle school saved the District approximately $50M compared to the cost of building a new school. Built in 2001, SPPS oversaw the original design and building of Crosswinds which has the capacity for 600 students. For many years the building housed a significant quantity of SPPS students as part of the East Metro Integration District, so in many ways this building has always been part of SPPS.
The school campus also provides unique amenities for outdoor learning and exciting potential for expansion of current specialized programming (those details are still under review). The middle school is located just four miles east of St. Paul’s border and is easily accessible from St. Paul via I-94 and I-494, along with Upper and Lower Afton Roads.
2. When will the new middle school be available for students?
Families will have the opportunity to enroll students starting with the 2019-20 school year.
3. Will the new middle school have a specific program specialty focus? If so, what kind?
The newly-acquired middle school (Crosswinds building) will be a STEM magnet school.
SPPS will also identify which school will serve as the comprehensive, community middle school option for students living in Area A; staff are in the process of talking with the City of St. Paul, Ramsey County, Parks and Recreation and other partners on how efforts can be aligned to make the community middle school a true community asset.
4. Will students be asked to relocate from their current middle school to the newly-acquired middle school?
No, students will not have to relocate from their current middle school. The new school will be an enrollment option provided to students just starting middle school who qualify as living in the school’s attendance Area (certain parts of St. Paul that are in the process of being defined) or for students requesting a change in school.
5. Since the middle school is located in Woodbury, will transportation be different than at other SPPS schools?
The District’s transportation policy will be the same for students attending the newly-acquired middle school. Students who live in the approved attendance area(s) will receive busing to and from the school. Families living outside the new school’s attendance area(s) but still choose to send their student to the school will need to provide their child with transportation to and from the school.
6. Will the name Crosswinds remain or will the school be given a new name?
The District is planning on renaming the school and will seek input from families, staff and the community on what that name should be. More details on this process will be announced at a later date.
7. How is this model for enrollment projections different than past mode SPPS has used?
In the past, SPPS has looked at enrollment on a one-year basis to plan annual school budgets and student placement. However, one-year projections are not enough for the long-term planning needed for facilities and programming. For this long-range planning, an expert in population trends looked at many other factors that impact student enrollment such as historical patterns for enrollment and housing trends.
The model looked at how many children are born in an area to predict the future kindergarten students based on historical patterns of overall student enrollment and how many students stay at an SPPS school from one grade to the next. Additional information considered included the likelihood that a cultural community might stay in St. Paul or move to another school district.
The number and type of housing in a particular area and the number of school-aged children in each housing type was also taken into account. This information helps predict how many people might stay in the city or move when there are changes in available housing. For example, if more senior housing complexes are being built in the city, this means more single-family homes become available for families with children; however, this does not increase the number of families with school-age children as much as building new single-family homes would. It should be noted that perhaps for the first time in decades, St. Paul housing patterns may change due to the mixed-use housing that is being built on several large redevelopment sites and along transit corridors like the Green Line light rail.
8. Will property taxes increase to pay for the newly-acquired middle school?
Every year since 1989, the Board of Education has voted on facility improvements that in turn impact property taxes through a tax levy. A tax levy allows school districts to raise money through public taxation to fund construction projects to ensure school buildings are kept in good shape and meet the learning needs of students. The Board of Education determines the levy amount each year based on specific facility needs for the upcoming year.
In July 2018, the Board of Education will vote on five years of facility projects, which will include the middle school acquisition along with many other school projects. As part of this five-year facility project proposal, property taxes are anticipated to increase a little; a preview of the property tax exact amounts will be available in June.