Bill seeks easier school district secession process

Unite Edina 273 is getting help from Rep. Ron Erhardt in its quest to detach from the Hopkins school district.

Erhardt, D-Edina, introduced legislation Monday, Jan. 28, that would allow groups to begin the process of leaving a school district without the consent of the school district from which they wish to detach. Current state law requires an OK from the district before a group wanting to detach can go to the county board for final approval.

The Minnesota House passed identical legislation during the 2012 session. It failed in the Senate Education Committee.

“We hope it will pass again,” Unite Edina 273 Chair Alan Koehler said. “Our argument has not changed and now we have even more information than we did before.”

This the starting point for them in the Legislature, Koehler said. They expect to attend committee hearings and give testimony again to explain their goal, he said.

When asked how he thought the legislation would fare, Hopkins Superintendent John Schultz said he never predicts legislation.

What is different this year is that the process outlined in state law has now been tested.

Unite Edina 273, which represents part of Parkwood Knolls in northwest Edina, spent last year attempting to detach from the Hopkins school district and annex into the Edina school district. The Hopkins School Board unanimously opposed the detachment request in December in light of potential fiscal impact on the district’s property tax revenue. Detachment could decrease the district’s revenue by $557,000, according to a Hopkins school district report.

Schultz said he was impressed with the process for detachment and annexation. Hopkins school district staff will also have more information to present to the House this time around. The report given to the Hopkins School Board in December went far beyond the fiscal numbers and outlined the history of how the district came to be, Schultz said.

It shows the district wasn’t created through random moves, but through decisions made by citizens and governing boards, he said.

The Hopkins School Board received a total of 448 petitions to detach, two of which weren’t legally verifiable, from 467 parcels in the detachment area. Nineteen parcels didn’t submit petitions.

Unite Edina 273 began voicing its desire to detach from the Hopkins school district in October 2010.


Contact Lisa Kaczke at [email protected]