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Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Rochester School Board is expected to vote tonight on some sweeping changes involving the Rochester Public Schools, particularly in Southeast Rochester.

The Board met in a study session last week to discuss the revised Attendance Options Redesign that was first unveiled by Superintendent Kent Pekel in late November. Those plans underwent a major revision in early January after it was announced that Mayo Clinic was donating $10 million to the school district to help it overcome a looming budget deficit for the next school year.

Pekel. Rochester Public Schools
Pekel. Rochester Public Schools
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Since then, Superintendent Pekel has proposed some modest tweaks to the recommendations. Pinewood Elementary School would still move into the much newer Longfellow Elementary School and share the building with the existing 45-15 districtwide option program, but Pekel has recommended a delay in moving the Mighty Oaks early childhood program into the Pinewood building until the estimated costs of renovations to accommodate the younger children can be refined.

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The Superintendent is also recommending the elimination of the self-transport option for high school students. That would have allowed students to attend a public high school outside their attendance area if there was sufficient space and they provided their own transportation.

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Another revision calls for moving the school district’s Spanish Immersion program to Riverside Elementary School in two phases. The K-5 program would make the move for the next school year, while shifting the middle school program to Riverside would wait until the 2025-2026 school year.

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The Mayo Clinic donation is allowing the School Board to avoid making much broader changes that would have had a more significant impact outside of the southeast quadrant of the city for at least one more year. Superintendent Pekel has indicated he will likely recommend putting an operating levy proposal on the fall ballot to avoid broader revisions to address budget shortfalls and a reworking of the district's transportation system to allow for later start times of the high school level and earlier start times for elementary students.

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Gallery Credit: Carly Ross