Hopkins Schools board delays action on detaching property in district

Developer for Edina homes hopes to list them in Edina School District

Berman Edina Properties, a developer currently working on seven lots in northwestern Edina, seeks to remove the properties from the Hopkins school district in favor of Edina public schools.

Hopkins school board members met at an Aug. 22 meeting – the first of many for new superintendent, Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Sabina Badola)
Hopkins school board members met at an Aug. 22 meeting – the first of many for new superintendent, Rhoda Mhiripiri-Reed. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Sabina Badola)

The Hopkins School Board is expected to make a decision on the detachment request at a Sept. 5 meeting. A misunderstanding between petitioners Frank and Toby Berman and board members at the Aug. 22 meeting resulted in high tensions and prompted the board to delay the decision.

This isn’t the first time the board has addressed detachment requests from Edina residents. In 2012, board members unanimously voted against a similar request from Unite Edina 273, a neighborhood alliance within the Parkwood Knolls neighborhood. The group wished to remove more than 400 properties from Hopkins Independent School District 270 in favor of Edina ISD 273. According to the group, many area parents open enrolled their children in the Edina school system anyway, so they could go to school with nearby children who lived within the district.

In this case, Berman Properties’ petition for detachment states that the Edina school district will better serve the seven properties due to their location within Edina city limits, closer proximity to Edina schools and the fact that the majority of the other neighborhood students attend Edina schools.

The general consensus of the board has not changed since 2012. The board’s official stance is that a detachment would not in the best interest of the students, families, taxpayers and community as a whole.

Steve Adams, board treasurer, said he couldn’t see how Hopkins school district would benefit from the detachment.

“How do our taxpayers, how do our students, benefit from this?” Adams asked. “There’s nothing in here that says there’s any benefit that we would incur, so it’d be hard for me to justify detachment to our taxpayers and to our students in the district.”

The board also expressed concerns about setting an unwanted precedent for school districts statewide if the board were to allow the detachment.

“To me, it feels like it’s the start of a domino effect,” Kris Newcomer, board director, said. “The legislature has looked at this twice or three times, and they’ve all said collectively, ‘If this happens in one district, it will open the door in other districts across the state.’”

Board chair Wendy Donovan expressed personal frustration at having to hear about detachment for the third time.

“It’s very frustrating because we have no recourse. We just have to do this. We’ve done it twice. I’m frustrated by the process,” she said.

Donovan, an Edina resident, also stated that homeowners choose a house knowing which school district the property is in.

“When I bought my house, I knew clearly the district listed on that title. So, I go back to that: When you get your title, that would be your time to figure out if you’re not in the right district, I would assume,” she said.

The Hopkins district serves the cities of Hopkins, most of Minnetonka, about half of Golden Valley and portions of Eden Prairie, Plymouth, St. Louis Park and Edina.

It is common, according to a report to the school board, for a city to be zoned into multiple school districts as the boundaries do not adhere to city boundaries.

For example, Edina residents are zoned into five districts in addition to the Edina district.

“Borders of school districts are not contiguous necessarily. This is not atypical in the way that the boundaries of the school district are established,” said Jim Martin, legal counsel for Hopkins district.

Martin also pointed out that while the 2012 detachment requests would have resulted in a significant loss of tax base and revenue for the district due to the sheer number of properties wishing to secede, the annexation of these properties would be different.

“The loss of tax base and loss of revenue in this situation is not by any means as significant as what was being looked at in 2012,” Martin said.

The Bermans were not reachable for a comment.

However, Frank Berman expressed his frustrations at the Aug. 22 board meeting when he was not allowed to be heard by the board outside of the open agenda period, the designated portion of the meeting when attendees who wish to speak to the board may do so.

“You’re not hearing our side of it,” Berman exclaimed to the board.

The mishap resulted in pushing the matter to the Sept. 5 meeting.

“Since there was a misunderstanding in the terms of the petitioners addressing the board during open agenda, it behooves us that we give the individual an opportunity,” Warren Goodroad, board vice chair, explained.

Hopkins School Board meetings are typically held at 6 p.m. Tuesdays in Eisenhower Community Center’s boardroom. More information can be found at hopkinsschools.org.

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