It takes a village to raise a child, but why can’t it be the one we live in?

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In a perfect world, this would be the school my daughter would attend this coming fall as a Kindergartener. Unfortunately, due to declining enrollment in the district combined with some financial shortfalls, this elementary school was shuttered just months before we bought our house five years ago. And I say perfect world because I can literally walk out my front door, look down the block and see this very school building. We knew this when we closed on the house, but we figured it was no consequence as there are two other perfectly good neighborhood schools in Hopkins proper, just 8 blocks from our home and situated across the road from each other. We could still have our children attending neighborhood schools with classmates in our neighborhood.

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But wait! Not so fast, says the powers that be on the school board. Our neighborhood gets no such luxury. In fact, our immediate neighborhood is split amongst three schools, one of them being two and a half miles away. That’s right, there are two perfectly good schools close by, but when the decision was made to close Katherine Curren Elementary at the end of our block someone made the poor decision to bus the kids not just out of their neighborhood but out of the city entirely, down the road a ways and across a freeway. Mind you, I don’t live in your stock, sprawling suburb where 2.5 miles is no big deal. I live in a semi-dense, small-lot, urban, walkable neighborhood where we get by with just one car, which my wife typically drives to work. In fact, I find it to be a very pleasant walk to get to our neighborhood school 8 blocks away and have done it several times.

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I can’t even imagine why it was thought to be a good idea to split my neighborhood up into three schools instead of the two that are right here in our neighborhood. It seems unfortunate that, instead of fostering strong ties with the community we live in, the district would choose to divide us. Why, my daughter has become friends with nearby children, but because of the split she won’t be going to the same school. Our families won’t have that common bond of school events and school news and the PTA or anything like that and it feels weird because they’re only living a couple blocks away.

I can just be thankful that there is a process for transferring schools within the district, and my wife and I are amongst many parents surrounding us that have taken that option. Where the district has erred, we parents have corrected the mistake. Mind you, there’s a bit of paperwork and coordination to be able to have our daughter go to the school that’s right in our neighborhood instead of the one 2.5 miles away, but it can be done and we have done it. But it feels like we shouldn’t have to do it, that getting our children into the neighborhood public school shouldn’t be a burden and the default school for the kids closest to us shouldn’t be one so far away when we have schools so close.

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