After handing off more than 400 signed petitions for detachment to the Hopkins School District, the members of Unite Edina 273 are stuck playing the waiting game.
The group of Edina property owners have been working to switch their homes from the Hopkins School District to Edina for quite some time now, both by talking with the two districts and by lobbying the state Legislature.
Alan Koehler said 97 percent of property owners in the Parkwood Knolls area—in Edina's northwest corner—currently support annexation to the Edina School District. Koehler and the other Unite Edina 273 members presented their signed petitions to Hopkins administrators late last month, though it's not clear what sort of power those petitions have.
The petitions are actually addressed to the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, though current statute requires consent from the detaching school district before the matter can go to the county. Koehler said he hopes to officially file those petitions with Hennepin County later this month, meaning a hearing could take place before the end of the year.
"We provided Hopkins with copies of our petitions, so we're giving them some time to go through them right now," Koehler said. "We're basically just waiting to see what sort of response they will give us."
Should they be denied detachment by Hopkins schools, Koehler said the next order of business would be to go back to the Legislature to try to amend state law. Keith Downey (R-Edina) and Geoff Michel (R-Edina) championed legislation last session that would have amended the existing statute, which Koehler claims "gives no power to the homeowner and no mechanism to change districts without consent of the detaching district."
"We have 97 percent of homeowners wanting to change districts, with less than five percent attending Hopkins schools, but even in those circumstances we're not allowed any sort of due process," he said. "Whether we change the statute, create a new statute or just abolish it, it doesn't matter. Right now, it doesn't serve its purpose at all."
Edina Public Schools has thus far tried to stay out of the matter altogether, though Koehler said several school board members have told him "our families would be welcomed into the district" if the annexation takes place.
The impact in terms of students switching from attending Hopkins schools to Edina would be between six and 12, according to Koehler, as most of the neighborhood's children already attend Edina Public Schools via open enrollment.
While some might argue there isn't much of a problem given the small number of residents actually attending Hopkins schools, Koehler said it's a strange situation to pay property taxes to one school district and have your children attend school in another. He admits the school funding system will likely never be perfect, but noted Parkwood Knolls residents find themselves "in a strange middle zone."
"Our kids go to one district, but our money goes to another," he said. "Somebody else is bearing the cost of educating our kids, which we'd like to remedy. We believe the money should follow the students."