I support the church site rebuild for the Twin Cities German Immersion School [TCGIS].
The project creates a visual change in the Como neighborhood, but it is a positive and forward thinking change for students, the environment, and the community.
The former St. Andrew’s Church building was sold to TCGIS with no strings attached to serve students. When TCGIS purchased the property in 2011, the school adaptively reused the former church building as a makeshift gym and cafeteria. However, the building no longer adequately meets the needs of the school and its current and future students. In order to be safe, accessible, and inclusive as all public options are meant to be, changes are needed. The campus improvement project specifically calls for expanded spaces for special education students, who currently have class meetings in crowded hallways. These and all students will be better served by added classrooms (with natural light) and a standard gymnasium that does not have to also function as a cafeteria.
Further, the rebuild is a responsible environmental step. Twenty-five percent of the current building is unusable for the school due to vestibules, steep staircases, and other non-accessible areas. The new building with another floor will double the usable square footage for the school, without any significant increase in building footprint.
Also, the former church building is uninsulated and costly to the school and to our environment to heat. A modern insulated structure will emit significantly less carbon dioxide than the uninsulated structure with voluminous heated space that is unusable by the school. Furthermore, the former church site has grandfathered storm water management from the 1920s. The new building adds storm water management to help improve nearby Como Lake. The proposed changes are in line with community values and city goals regarding climate action.
Finally, having this unique, thriving school in our midst is a benefit to the community in many ways. The school adds vitality to a building that would likely otherwise stand empty. TCGIS brings people into Como and area neighborhoods to shop, eat, and live, helping keep businesses healthy and property values strong. Also, the school provides a public option, equally available to all, for language immersion education. Half of TCGIS graduating eighth graders go to high school at St. Paul Central, the school with whom they partner to continue advanced language instruction in German.
I hope we, as neighbors, can see the benefits of the proposed TCGIS rebuild.
[Lisa Sackreiter is a 22- year resident of St. Paul and the current board chair of the St. Anthony Park Community Foundation.}
Reading Clayton Howatt’s opinion piece [in the March Bugle] about the Twin Cities German Immersion School left me rather sad. It seems the sole intention of the author was to discredit the German School, in any way possible.
How disturbing that a parent from one school feels the urge to lash out against another unrelated school. I understand that Howatt is frustrated his school is not thriving and he would like for that to change. But is attacking another school a good course of action to improve the situation? Wouldn’t it be better to approach a successful fellow school in a cooperative way? As in learning from a successful school’s experience, so more children can benefit from a wonderful education?
Howatt’s unfounded assumption that the German School is educating their students to be racially biased couldn’t be further from the truth. It is appalling to read such an accusation in a neighborhood newspaper. TCGIS’s curriculum is very globally minded and inclusive. The fact that there are less students of color enrolled at TCGIS has nothing to do with who the school “selects” to be its students. The school follows Charter school regulations and students are chosen by an equal chance lottery.
Do Charter schools really cost the taxpayer extra money? Quite the opposite is true. Students who attend a charter school cost the taxpayer a fraction of the money per student then it would cost if the student attended a public school.
TCGIS is a thriving community because so many work hard and give so much of their time to do the best they possibly can for the students. That includes very engaged parents, awesome teachers, hard-working administrators and board members. I wish we could all go back and focus on education and the children instead of slinging mud at each other and wasting precious resources.
German Immersion School PTO response
In response to Clayton Howatt’s 2/17 commentary piece in the Bugle opposing the Twin Cities German Immersion School expansion:
We, the PTO of the Twin Cities German Immersion School, were very disappointed to see the Park Bugle article written by Galtier Community School’s PTO president attacking our school. Similar to you Clayton, our parent volunteers work hard to support our school for our kids and the kids in the community, which makes it all the more disheartening that this attack comes from another involved parent/PTO member.
TCGIS is the largest German immersion school in North America and the only German immersion school in Minnesota. TCGIS is only one of three public German immersion schools in the entire country. TCGIS not only fills a niche not available through SPPS, it fills a niche that is hardly available anywhere else in the country. Similar to the parents in SPPS seeking out Adams Spanish Immersion or L’Etoile du Nord French Immersion, our families are seeking out a German language immersion program.
Regarding the question of diversity, we acknowledge there is an issue and welcome any input that would help get our school’s mission to the broader population.
But Clayton’s comparison of our single school demographics to the entire SPPS district is a bit disingenuous. You are comparing a sample size of 585 students to 37,000 students. Our demographics are similar to our neighborhood demographics. Please know that we welcome ALL students into our annual lottery.
As educators, involved parents and community members, we hope that we share the same goal to increase opportunity and access for all students. Pointing fingers and making hurtful accusations is divisive and does not accomplish this goal. This is the current tone of our country; we expect better from our schools, educators and parents in our own community.
Our public schools are underfunded as a whole, but especially in the area of Special Education and English Language Learning. Twin Cities German Immersion School is not to blame for this nor are charter schools. Unfortunately, they become an easy target to attack instead of looking at the bureaucratic system that is to blame for a lack of appropriate funds and a deliberate effort to segregate neighborhoods, which in turn segregates schools.
We share the same wonderful urban community, let’s work together to learn and support each other as neighbors, educators and parents.
Clare Roney, Candace Davis, Catherine Radecki, Ashley Clayton, Jaime Willoughby, Sarah Robbins, Danielle Behling