In the coming years, Minnetonka Public Schools will have to tackle many complex issues. Patch asked this year’s School Board candidates about how they’d handle some of the major issues facing the district.
Today’s question is:
- How should Minnetonka Public Schools respond to demographic changes like aging in place? (Aging in place is a trend in which parents stay in their homes after their children leave instead of selling homes to families with children. This can decrease enrollment.)
I believe that Minnetonka Public Schools value all of the members of our community. There are opportunities for community members and property owners to serve in our schools as volunteers in our schools as well as opportunities for learning through our community education programs. Our job is to create the best education possible for our students whether E-12 learners or adult learners. We welcome and value all to our learning community.
As aging homeowners find it preferable to stay in their homes rather than downsize, and the economy is still recovering, houses aren’t turning over quickly and many new families aren’t moving in. Costs of running a larger home coupled with deteriorating health can weigh on our community’s aging population. When the time comes to sell, our older citizens rely on the Minnetonka School Districts’ reputation of a “World Class Education” as it leads to increased property value.
Our excellent educational offerings also attract students from other districts. As their districts must shrink services to make ends meet, we have managed our finances so as to be able to offer excellent core curriculum as well as specialty educational programs like Language Immersion, Navigators and the Vantage Program. This has enabled us to weather a declining resident enrollment.
The programming excellence in Minnetonka Schools has always been a draw for families to our district and in my conversations with leading realtors, they see that trend continuing and up trending with more families seeking Minnetonka. This has resulted in our empty nester percent of homes remaining fairly consistent over time. Open enrollment provides student and funding stability for our district while our homes turn over to younger families.
The real benefit to our school district of the empty nester population is the generosity of time and expertise that this group gives to our schools. I fully appreciate the significant contributions and the value that those many volunteers bring to our district.
A high-performing educational system is the foundation of a healthy, vibrant community. Our nationally ranked district is the outcome of a strong vision, innovation, sound investments and community support.
The community’s support of the Minnetonka Public Schools has been impressive especially considering the majority of residents do not have a child currently attending one of our schools. Learning is a lifelong journey and the majority of our residents have access to a wide variety of community education programming through the Minnetonka Public School District.
Investing in the Minnetonka Public Schools has produced a solid return for local residents. The resulting high educational performance has created increased demand for homes in our community.
Minnetonka School District is a district of choice for resident and non-resident families.
The breadth of programs (e.g., IB, Navigators, Immersion, etc.), the personal attention and the small class sizes benefits families within our boundaries who might otherwise have attended private schools. It also attracts students outside our geographic line which brings additional funds to improve the programs offered to all Minnetonka residents.
Minnetonka Community Education provides a great example of how the district has been able to grow enrollment even with aging in place. Community education is funded based on the number of resident students 0-4. The aging in place trend experienced in the Minnetonka district boundaries results in a declining 0-4 population. With the high performing programing resulting in NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) accreditation, the district’s early childhood education programs have grown to better serve our residents as well as attract new families to the district.
This approach not only creates a pipeline of buyers for properties if/when age in place residents decide to move, it also provides funding for additional community education programs that are offered to all residents.
We greatly appreciate the contributions to our district by our experienced residents. Not only for what they’ve done in the past, but also for what they continue to do in terms of volunteering and supporting our children in their civic and fundraising efforts. Thank you!