Minneapolis Urban League will not seek new contract for Urban League Academy, ending 40-year partnership with Minneapolis Public Schools

Black Girls Code (BGC) workshop volunteers Ashley Tolbert, second from left, and Nagita Sykes, second from right, guide sisters Jessica Ostrun, 11, far right, and Jayda Ostrun, 7, during an app building session at Google, on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 in New York. BGC introduces basic programming to girls from a segment of the population now poorly represented in the high technology workforce. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

OBN Editors Note: If you did not see this coming, the evidence was clear as the nose on your face.

For Immediate Release – Contact: Steven Belton,  sbelton@mul.org – 612-302-3101

Minneapolis, MN – The Minneapolis Urban League (MUL) Board of Directors and Interim CEO announce today the MUL will not seek to renew for the 2015-2016 academic year its contract with Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) for the Urban League Academy (ULA). The alternative high school will close on June 5, 2015 ending a 40-year partnership.

"...sans education." (Photo: Urban League logo- Fair Use)

“…sans education.” (Photo: Urban League logo- Fair Use)

“This is a sad day for the Urban League Academy and community,” said Steven Belton, Interim President and CEO. “Our students found caring and encouraging teachers and an environment of mutual support and high expectations there. The Minneapolis Urban League will continue to advocate for educational equity and develop strategies for new educational services.”

“We thank the Minneapolis Urban League for their years of service and partnership. We are committed to working closely with families to provide a smooth transition for students and to meet their academic needs for this upcoming school year,” said MPS interim Superintendent Michael Goar.

The ULA serves a population of at-risk students who face serious challenges and have struggled to achieve academic success in traditional school settings. Unfortunately, contract revenue for ULA students has not kept up with costs and MUL has absorbed operating losses from the school for each of the past several years. In April, the MUL board agreed to lease its school building, located in south Minneapolis, to a startup charter school, which will provide revenue to the MUL. A search for another school venue proved unsuccessful.

Contract alternative schools like ULA do not receive lease aid from the State of Minnesota, which is a financial disadvantage as compared to charter schools, which receive lease aid. Contract alternatives also do not receive tax levy revenue, drop-out prevention assistance and other program monies that traditional public schools are eligible to receive. At-risk students require a host of academic and support services that are not covered by the per pupil allocation to alternative schools, which is far below the amount allocated to charter and traditional public schools.

“The financial issues are complicated, but the disappointing reality is we cannot afford to provide the quality education our students deserve under the present funding structure,” said Clinton Collins, Jr., MUL Chair. “We carefully studied the fiscal implications of continuing our partnership with MPS and examined various alternatives. Ultimately we decided our duty of financial stewardship necessitated closing the school.”

ULA will hold its final graduation ceremony for the Class of 2015 at 6:00 p.m. on June 1, for 12 students. The commencement exercise will be held at MUL’s Glover Sudduth Center, located at 2100 Plymouth Avenue North. The community is invited to attend.

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