I went to a private , catholic school, growing up in the late 70's/early 80's for my 1-7th grades (they had no Kindy then and circumstances prevented me staying thru 8th grade, which my school went to--St Raphael's in Crystal, Mn). As an adult, I am not particularly religious, and my hubby is not catholic, so an area for our child we agreed to disagree on.
I live right in the area you mentioned. We were fortunate that our "home school" for my child was Riverview. Its now closed as of this year =(. But it became the first Specialty (magnet) program in the Anoka-Hennepin district, so we were proud to have that distinction! It was a Math and Environmental Science program (MAST). They carried the program over for those kids to Jackson Middle School, which was GREAT! But when they went to Champlin Park...which when my daughter was there for 9/10 grade (she is in 11th now)...it was the largest student body high school in the state of MN...just over 3000 students in 4 grades!!
For my child, who came from a "team" program in her late elementary years, to the middle school where that team within the larger school still existed, to being dumped into this big ocean of people, without her smaller team community, that was very very hard. But in the end we were biding our time for her to get old enough to apply to a statewide public art school in Golden Valley that is just for 11th and 12 graders, which she successfully applied, auditioned and got into and is very happy at so far.
Personally, I do think the public schools are good, but the volume of kids is so great, for a shy, sensitive child such as mine, it was easy for her to get lost in the mix. When I, myself went from private to public school all those years ago, I was surprised at how far ahead I was in Math and English areas than the public school kids were. Science I had the book learning down, but none of the experiemntation, as my school had no real lab for that. I am sure things are different now! My brothers kids actually go to St. Raphaels now (weird for him!) but he says they are not far off par from other friends kids the same ages? That was his opinion....I was very happy with Anoka-Henn schools until she got older and older....as the class and schools got bigger. But much of that could be due to her and her learning/socializing styles. Shes shy and sensitive.
Now she attends the Perpich Center for Arts Education in Golden Valley with 300 other artists/dancers/musicians/theater kids (in 2 grades). The Arts High School. These are HER people!