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POLL: Are You Considering Another School District For Your Child?

A local resident recently wrote he would not be sending his children to Richfield Public Schools.

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While some locals are still reeling after the Richfield School Board to reconsider , others may just simply not care.

The Sun Current recently ran a Letter to the Editor from Richfield resident Mike Ryan who says he doesn't care about budget cuts and lights spending—his kids will not be enrolling in Richfield Public Schools.

"My children will use open enrollment to attend the nearby, much higher ranked public schools. That is, if we can’t move to a better school district first," Ryan wrote. "I keep hearing the local politicians say they want to entice higher income families to Richfield. But why would anyone purchase a home in Richfield when for a similar home and comparable price they could purchase a home in the St. Louis Park, West Bloomington, or the further out suburbs with a much better school district? Until Richfield begins taking even simple steps to repair it’s once highly regarded schools, they might as well forget about trying to entice any families to Richfield."

It's no secret that Richfield schools have been struggling with money and an achievement gap the past few years. And while showed an increase in elementary and middle school students from 2010, numbers declined by 28 at the high school.

So, Richfield Patch asks: With the 2012-13 school year looming, are you considering schools outside the district? Or are you standing behind Richfield Public Schools?

Take our poll below and share your thoughts in the comments section.

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Heidi Thomas August 02, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Our family has lived in Richfield since before our children were born. The first of our three boys will be a senior this year. We would never consider sending our kids to another district, private, or charter school. We feel that Richfield really represents our world and appreciate the diversity our kids are a part of. While I realize there are issues with test scores I know there is a lot of reasons those numbers look bad. My children are thriving in their academics and have access to athletic and fine art opportunities they might not have in a bigger district. We have had wonderful teachers who are dedicated and creative given especially given the limited resources they might sometimes have to work with. We are lucky to have caring and involved parents in our district and that needs to continue. If don't want to send your kids to our schools why would you continue to live here? Don't just sit back and complain. Get involved and be part of the solution.
Beth Lankey August 02, 2012 at 08:55 PM
I could not agree more with Carolyn and Kendra. As a lifelong resident of Richfield (37 years) and a graduate of RHS, I love my community and would never consider living anywhere else. We are a Centennial family and could not be happier with the education our children are receiving there. Our daughter is in the Gifted/Talented program; Lego League; Math Club, and was on the Student Council last year. She has had so many opportunities for learning and fun, and she has loved everything that she's been involved in. Our son is entering first grade this year and we're excited to see what his future holds as well. Our children are also involved in dance, Girl Scouts, sports, and church activities - all of which contribute to a fulfilling and diverse life for each of them. I agree with others who have said that school is what you make of it...test scores and rankings are NOT the bottom line when it comes to your child's education. Get to you know your kids' teachers. Stay on top of their homework. Talk with them about their day and what's happening with their friends. BE INVOLVED. We really believe our community is thriving and we're proud to be Richfield residents!
Shelly Nelson August 02, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Richfield's been great for us the past two years. After our 11th grader completed 4th grade and 9th grader finished 2nd grade, we pulled our kids out of the district to send them to charter schools. We sent them back to RPS for high school and have been very happy. It's so much more easy living in the same community where our school is. The honors and AP classes have been challenging for our son and we look forward to the CIS classes soon. As Kellie Bauer, who helped to make this year's track season so awesome for us as parents, stated above (hi Kell!), getting to know other parents is key. We have had great experiences learning how to help navigate our kids through high school because of the help from others. Also, the addition of RDLS and STEM have seemed to help younger families stay interested in the district. I feel that Dr. Slotterback has brought new life back into the district, every member of the school board (whether they agree or differ in opinion) truly care for Richfield and that exciting things are going to happen this next year for RPS. Go Spartans!
Mike Ryan August 03, 2012 at 05:03 AM
I wrote the letter and it basically sums up my frustrations about the Richfield School District's decisions of late and the district's rankings that lag behind a majority; if not all, the surrounding communities. I'm really glad to hear so many parents have fantastic things to say about Richfield schools, but what I truly want to know from those who have preached our schools: Are you ok with spending so much money on lights verses something that would directly benefit your children's education? Are you ok with all that money going to lights that will benefit maybe 10% of the students (if that)? Are you ok with that in the recent tight times... a time when the average family is making tough spending cuts & decisions at home to make ends meet... that the school board decides it is ok to spend on what most feel is an unnecessary luxury item? I grew up in Richfield Schools, but it isn't the 1970's, 80's, and 90's anymore. Times and places have changed. Richfield doesn't battle Edina anymore on any level... academic or athletic. Sports were a huge part of my life growing up so I'm certainly a huge backer of sports programs, but I really see the light decision as a very poor choice of spending. I think most of the teachers in the school district are probably among the hardest working folks you will find. I tip my cap to them for their efforts... But they can't make gold out of straw. And lately it seems like that is what the school district continuously asks them to do.
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) August 03, 2012 at 06:17 AM
Hi Mike. Thanks for joining the discussion and thank you to everyone for remaining civil on a fairly sensitive topic.
Marc Schaefer August 03, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Mike, Comments can be dangerous. You started out by making a general comment about the quality of Richfield Schools. Many people have responded with there personal stories of involvement in Richfield schools today. The vast majority are positive. Now you are talking about one very specific issue, baseball field lights. I'm in agreement with you about the lights even though I have three boys in RPS that will probably playing baseball under those lights. We have been involved in Sheridan Hills, RIS, STEM, RDLS, RMS and now our oldest is enterring the highschool. Their experience has been great. I have total confidence that they will be prepared for post secondary education. So to answer your question: No I'm not ok with with it. Yet that does not change the excellent teachers and experiences that my children have been part of in RPS. We live in a democracy and you have to roll with the punches yet I'll stay involved. What I'm less ok with are genralized negative comments from people who are not nearly as involved as we are.
Kris Brehmer August 03, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Thank you Marc Schaefer and all the other people with positive comments about Richfield Public Schools. We have lived in Richfield 28 years and are parents to a 2006 and 2009 RHS graduate and one entering RHS this fall.
Robert August 03, 2012 at 04:31 PM
No, why would I not want my kids to go to school in the community I live? If you don't like the community, leave. Please. Richfield's a great community. If you're looking for a school over run with White, Stay at Home Soccer Moms, and helicopter parents, w/ an average household income of $250,000, I hear the housing market in the suburbs is just awesome.
Laura August 03, 2012 at 06:34 PM
I love Richfield and the Richfield community, otherwise I wouldn't live here. I also love my children and have every right to make sure that I know that they are getting the best education that they can and worry when I hear or read about things that might affect their education, not because I'm looking for "a school over run with White, Stay at Home Soccer Moms, and helicopter parents, w/ an average household income of $250,000". While the school system is definitely part of the community, I don't think that it's fair to say that just because someone is looking into a different school system, which could be for a number of different reasons, that they should leave Richfield.
Robert August 03, 2012 at 07:51 PM
What schools will you ship your children off too? I'll bet you that community is more white, affluent, and English speaking.
Laura August 03, 2012 at 08:34 PM
I can only assume the previous comment was deleted, thank you.
Derek Brown August 03, 2012 at 09:00 PM
I appreciate all the positive comments about Richfield. I love living in Richfield, and it is a really great community. There is a lot of fun new things taking place in the community with contraction, development, planning, etc... However, being new to Minnesota and new future parents, my only way of evaluating schools has to be based on hard data. Shouldn't I feel obligated to try and send my kids to a district that is statistically higher achieving? I don't think I should leave a decision like this up to my emotions, just because I like Richfield. Liking has nothing to do with. I want to give my kids the best possible chance to succeed at the highest level possible. Statistics show that Edina would be that place, however we can't afford to move to Edina. Other options on our list are Minnetonka, Hopkins, Bloomington, but Richfield has still not been eliminated.
Derek Brown August 03, 2012 at 09:01 PM
I meant construction, not contraction :)
Mike Ryan August 04, 2012 at 01:30 AM
Marc... I don't see where I started off with a general comment on richfield schools? I started with two personal opinions about me. I believe everyone if free to have those. They are written with some anger and are intended to make a bold statement on my position which they obviously do. I then stated that Richfield on the handful of school websites is ranked dramatically lower then nearby schools. This is a documented truth and I listed one ranking and website as a reference. At that point most people seem to stop reading, let emotion take over, and fail to process anything else or how it relates to anything. I then go to some of our recent political leaders comments about wanting to bring more white collar, high income families to town (look at some of the local meetings in regard to the Ron Clark project) and make a general comment about how low ranking schools won't bring any families too town. The light decision was the final straw for me with Richfield schools. Final straws may come later for others or not come at all. Maybe some good decisions will bring me and some of my other friends who have their kids in other districts back. Time will tell, but the light decision and budget cuts do not point in a good direction in my opinion.
Mike Ryan August 04, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Well said Laura... I don't think folks mean to be as harsh as they read at times. You can tell many people are very passionate about Richfield schools. I have certainly been impressed by that and it may make me give a second look when my children get to that point. I wrote this letter from a perspective as a someone trying to evaluate what to do with their children. People say to leave, but I think most people know that for about 95% of people who have bought homes within the past 10 years that is a lot easier said than done.
Laura August 04, 2012 at 02:21 AM
@Mike, exactly, though I don't know if we would move if we could (remodel, maybe!) Richfield is a fantastic community, almost small town-like with a lot of pride. Don't get me wrong, Richfield schools aren't bad and the teachers and other staff are fabulous, it's the budget cuts and the low test scores that make me worry for the future. When we moved here 12 years ago when I was pregnant with my first son it was specifically for the school system. My kids have been blessed with some incredible, wonderful teachers.
Laura August 04, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Now, @Robert, at what point did I EVER make any type of statement or insinuate that I am a racist? One of the reasons I love living here is for the culture and the fact that we DO have all different kinds of people that make up OUR community. I have always taught my kids that you love someone for what's inside, not out. With the comments you keep making towards me it sounds like you may be the one with the problem. I also don't see anywhere in my comments that I want to move to an "affulent" neighborhood, do you? If I did, please by all means point it out. Unless you are talking about when I mentioned the budget cuts to the school system and if you are you can't tell me that if you actually had kids in the school system currently you wouldn't be a little worried about a $1,000,000 budget cut and wonder where that money is going to come from. As for the English-speaking comment, last I checked we are currently speaking English right now, aren't we? They speak English in the schools when they are teaching, right? Except for our Dual Language school, of course. Did I say anything at all or complain about my kids being in a school that doesn't speak English? I am excited for my kids to learn other languages and love that they can already understand some of the things that my neighbors say who are from other cultures. So before you start going after me with unfounded and downright rude accusations maybe you should take the time to read what you are so confident to attack.
Robert August 04, 2012 at 03:16 AM
No, truely, what schools are you shipping the kids off too? Almost all the higher rated school districts on the area that are "ranked higher", have two other things in common, a higher percentage of white students, and a higher household income. I'd be surprised if that wasn't the case.
Laura August 04, 2012 at 03:42 AM
I am shipping my kids off to Richfield STEM and Richfield Middle School. If you are wondering what other schools I was looking at, I was looking at the other STEM schools around the Twin Cities that go past 5th grade and I was looking into different art schools for my other son. And yes, you are right, most of the other schools that are ranked higher than RPS have a higher percentage of white students. That's because we are lucky enough to live in one of the most diverse cities in the area. As for the higher income, I'm sure a lot of them are but I'm not ashamed that my city isn't Edina or Minnetonka, are you? But you can't argue with the fact that more money in the school system can mean more learning opportunities for our children and when some of that money gets taken away you need to wonder where it's going to come from.
Joe August 04, 2012 at 04:01 AM
The reason Richfield's test scores are dropping is due to people running their kids off somewhere else. Most notably, this trend toward Charter Schools. How many kids attending Seven Hills live in Richfield? If you're looking for helicopter/elitist parents, or the money Richfield schools won't receive next year due to test scores? Blame the charter schools. They're receive government funding as well.... At least parents sending their children off to private schools are actually paying for it.
Joe August 04, 2012 at 04:23 AM
What we need is more parents getting involved in Richfield, take pride in it! Running from a problem only creates more... Simply trotting your kids off "somewhere else" doesn't make you a better parent, especially if you never tried to help in the first place.
Matt Jurewicz August 04, 2012 at 02:51 PM
More to Joe's point... I wonder if those who choose to flee the district think their child will either help improve the overall test scores or contribute to bringing them down? If it's the latter, then I say go ahead, hit the bricks.
Derek Brown August 04, 2012 at 02:57 PM
You shouldn't judge people if they are doing what they think is right for their kids. There is no right or wrong here. Hostile emotions and comments towards your neighbor certainly isn't making things better.
Matt Jurewicz August 04, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Of course, I'm beeing a bit cynical and flippant.... Obviously, we all want what's best for our kids. It's not surprising, however, when one's commitment to community is called into question when they decide to attend school outside the district. Visit the schools, get involved, stay in the district.
Kaye August 05, 2012 at 04:27 PM
While I'm happy to hear so many positive comments about Richfield schools, I have chosen to send my child to a private school. Based on the information I had at the time I needed to choose, I felt it was the best choice. My hesitancy about RHS is partially due to the crime element I've heard about. I think ultimately, parents need to choose based on the best fit for their child (gifted, artistic, etc). In the end, isn't a child going happily off to school each day most important, regardless of public or private?
Matt Jurewicz August 05, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Kaye: can you share what this crime element is you speak of and where you got that information?
Kirsten August 07, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Wow, this has been a really great discussion! The only thing that I would have to add is this: for people concerned about budget cuts in the Richfield schools, make sure you get out and support the referendum in the fall. This will allow the schools to help the students achieve even greater successes. Great schools are an important community asset. Not just for families with kids, but for the whole community.
Jackie Hughes August 07, 2012 at 06:32 PM
I have a hard time using test scores to compare schools. I don't think that we should compare Richfield schools to other schools based on the test scores as each school has a different student make-up. How are our white students, or ESL, or minority, or free/reduced lunch students doing compared to their counterpart in other schools? When we break down the scores into like groups how do we compare then? When I view those scores I look at how my 2 sons are doing and progressing compared to the district and the state. My sons are doing well and love going to their respective schools (RMS and STEM). Their teachers and opportunities have been great. I don't think that my sons would have any better opportunities or experiences in another district or charter school. How do I feel about the lights at the baseball field? I don't know, I can go both directions on this issue, but, since the field is being updated now (via grant) it makes sense to me to add lights now rather than later. But, here are my questions - how is/was this money going to be used if we don't use it on lights, what other options were being considered for this money, will the lights help bring in income for the schools?
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) August 07, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Hi Jackie. I think I can answer your lights questions. The district was not anticipating that the turf field revenues would be so high. Originally it was thought that about $50,000 would come in each year and it would be put in a fund for maintenance and the eventual replacement of the field. That figure is almost double now. Since there was "extra money" coming in, it was decided this could be used in addition to the grant to add the lights to the baseball field. The baseball lights have the potential to bring in money if the district decides to rent the field out. (There hasn't been any word on this yet.) While the money was unanticipated, the argument not to install the lights relates to recent budget cuts and layoffs. The rent money is considered operating money and could be used in the classrooms. I hope this helps. Here's the first story on the lights controversy: http://patch.com/A-vtn8
Caitlin Burgess (Editor) August 08, 2012 at 05:07 PM
FYI - if you missed this this morning, here are details on the referendum questions. http://patch.com/A-wHG9

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