The discussions between the Carlton and Wrenshall School Boards and the possibility of consolidating with a two-site facility plan are continuing. The Boards have had multiple joint and sub-committee meetings since July. The two-site plan that would have a PK-5 at South Terrace and a 6-12 in the Wrenshall school is the only facility option that the Wrenshall Board is willing to consider.
There are three key steps in this process, or milestones that will need to happen in order for consolidation and the facility construction plans to happen.
1) The Carlton and Wrenshall School Boards are collaborating to conduct a School Perceptions Survey. School Perceptions is a private company that is very successful in projecting what is likely/not likely to pass on a school referendum based on survey results. Identical surveys will be conducted in both the Wrenshall and Carlton School Districts.
The purpose of the survey is to assess the level of support the communities have for consolidation with the two site option, the school property tax increase tolerance level for property owners in each district and projected enrollment plans by parents/guardians (ie, 'would you enroll your child at the PK-5 at South Terrace, or at the 6-12 in Wrenshall).
The survey will be available the week of January 6th and the last day for submitting the survey is January 27th. Individuals will be able to complete a survey via paper or online. It is very important that residents (whether or not you own property or pay property taxes), parents (of current students, students who open enroll into Carlton and who open enroll out of Carlton) and staff complete the survey to provide the Boards clear direction for moving forward.
The School Boards are scheduled to have a joint meeting on February 11th to hear the survey results and recommendations.
2) The Boards have also agreed to initiate the process for lobbying the MN Legislature for approval of "Enhanced Debt Equalization Aid" that would reduce the amount local property tax payers would pay for facility bonds (with consolidation) by up to 46%. This process will start immediately, and we should know by the time the legislative session closes in late May whether or not we were successful in getting this through the legislature and Governor approved. If we are NOT able to get this legislation/aid, that the Carlton and Wrenshall districts would not proceed with a facility referendum or consolidation.
3) IF the February survey results are favorable for moving forward with a two-site referendum AND the enhanced aid is approved, the Boards will have a two site referendum on August 11, 2020. IF the referendum is successful in each community (50%+1 or more), the Carlton and Wrenshall districts would consolidate effective July 1, 2021.
The Carlton School Board will also spend time in the next few months discussing “If there is no consolidation with Wrenshall, what is Plan B?” We know this question is also very important our staff, students, families and residents. It is essential to focus on our responsibility to prepare our students for college and career readiness, and how we can best provide each student the best education possible.
Another 'piece' to the district's planning is responding to Carlton County's request to inform them whether or not the Carlton School Board is willing to sell to the County the MS/HS building and campus. The Board has informed the County that while they are supportive of potentially selling the property to them, the Carlton District is unable to commit to any sale until the long term plans for the district are determined.
The importance of this process cannot be overstated. These decisions and outcomes will impact students, staff and our communities for generations. The Carlton School Board understands the importance of moving forward strategically and thoughtfully. It is not possible to ‘rush’ this process, but we also understand that it is imperative that long range plans be determined as soon as possible. Please continue to stay informed and share your input with Board members or myself.