More than three years of work culminated May 14 with 69.5% of voters approving Eden Prairie School’s $39.9 million bond referendum. This was the highest rate of approval for the school district in 25 years. We’re seeing other signs too: Last fall was the first year of enrollment growth (nearly 200 students) after a decade of flat enrollment. This is notable considering that Eden Prairie’s housing market is mature. In a situation where declining enrollment looks inevitable, more families are choosing Eden Prairie Schools. Eden Prairie Schools’ academic strength is one of the key reasons families choose our schools. More than 99% of residents rate the district’s academic reputation as good or excellent.

The reasons are clear: Teachers and school staff are carrying out our mission to inspire each student. We have options for every student interest and passion, gifted education, and support for learners who need to master academic skills. We have involved stakeholders in our school district on a deep level. The $39.9 million bond referendum request came out of a three-year process known as Designing Pathways. Major elements of the academic vision include more personalized learning and more choices in how students learn; online courses for high school students; high school “capstone” projects that meld real-world experiences with academic learning; and a nurturing middle school experience that prepares students for high school. The referendum will propel us toward realizing the Designing Pathways plan that was developed by our community. The high rate of approval for the referendum confirms that our residents support the direction of Eden Prairie Schools.

When I was making the rounds in our community to talk about the referendum proposal (over 30 presentations between March and May), one thing I heard frequently was the pride residents have in the quality of our schools. People made comments like “private schools can’t match the options you give students,” “my child was ready for college and that wasn’t the case for some of the other college freshmen they met,” and “we have everything you could want in a school system.” Designing Pathways is continuing to expand and enhance what we offer: There will be more online courses taught by our exceptional, caring teachers; our middle school will be renovated to match a 21st century environment for education; and preschool will be available to more families who have told us they want the quality we can provide for their four year olds.

We arrived at the plan for Designing Pathways through extensive public input. As we proceed to fulfill the plans we have outlined, you will continue to hear from us and have opportunities for involvement. One of the reasons we are so strong as a school system is that we are connected deeply with the community of Eden Prairie. Our public is rightfully proud of their schools. On behalf of all the staff, thank you for being a supporter of Eden Prairie Schools.

Josh Swanson is the superintendent of Eden Prairie Schools.

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