Key Coverage

School Choice Splits Twin Cities Suburbs Into Haves, Have-nots

The bus cruising through Eden Prairie neighborhoods in the morning looks like any other yellow school bus.

But some families in the community know it’s different. They’ve hired the driver to pick up their children and haul them to the adjoining school district in Minnetonka. For some, the trip is 30 minutes one way and requires a change of buses.

Eden Prairie schools are usually ranked among the best in the Minnesota, but parent Jane-Marie Bloomberg says it’s worth paying $700 a year to bus her children to Minnetonka, where class sizes are smaller.

“It’s a lot less driving for us and a lot less coordinating for our work and personal lives,” Bloomberg said.

From Eden Prairie to Mahtomedi, suburban parents are going the distance to enroll their children in other school districts and charter schools that offer the programs and services they want. In the process, they’re effectively redrawing the map of school district boundaries in the Twin Cities metro and producing unexpected winners and losers.