Carlton-Wrenshall pairing and sharing at stalemate once againA proposal to resume pairing and sharing between the Carlton and Wrenshall school districts was brought back to the table recently, only to fail at the last minute.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
A proposal to resume pairing and sharing between the Carlton and Wrenshall school districts was brought back to the table recently, only to fail at the last minute.
The two districts severed the ties of their pairing and sharing program three years ago, reportedly due to what Carlton Board Chair Randy Schmitz stated was disagreement over equity in activity fees. Since that time no one knew just when and if the plan would be revived.
According to Carlton School Superintendent Scott Hoch, however, the two districts resumed ongoing discussions of a new pairing and sharing arrangement after Schmitz contacted Wrenshall Board Chair Dan Jacobson last November.
Subsequent meetings were then set up between committees from each board for Jan. 20 and 27, with another on March 3, which Hoch said was also attended by superintendents, principals and high school counselors.
Hoch reported that discussions at that time resulted in a mutually agreed-upon plan to combine spring sports as well as various academic programs. A resolution was then worked out to be formally presented at special board meetings of both districts on March 8.
At the time the resolution was presented in Wrenshall, however, it died for lack of action by the board.
According to current Wrenshall Board Chair Janaki Fisher-Merritt, the Wrenshall board declined to approve the resolution for a number of reasons, one of which he said was the fact the Carlton board chose to postpone action on the matter until its Monday, March 15, meeting – which happened to be after the start of the spring track season.
Fisher-Merritt said in the minds of the Wrenshall School Board, it was essentially too late to enter into a pairing and sharing agreement after the spring sports season was already under way.
Schmitz defended the Carlton board’s action, however, saying members wanted to make certain Wrenshall was going to take action on the resolution before passing one of their own.
Among other reasons Fisher-Merritt cited for Wrenshall’s decision not to approve the resolution was their sense that Carlton’s administration and athletic director seemed to be less interested in partial pairing and sharing than in combining the entire sports program.
Schmitz disagreed, stating the sticking point between the two districts had more to do once again with participation fees and avoiding “lop-sided valuations” that favored one district over the other.
And though the two districts appeared to be at something of a stalemate this week, both held out hope that something more can be done to move forward on the situation sometime in the future.
“We believe there are a number of areas that really make sense for our two districts to pair and share,” stated Fisher-Merritt, “and we were very disappointed when [Carlton] discontinued the agreement that had been in place between the two districts for many years. I hope we will be able to work out an agreement in the near future that will benefit the students of both districts.”
Schmitz indicated that he believes pairing and sharing is something the people and students want and need and said he believes they need a voice in the process as well.
“The kids are the ones who lose out from all of this,” he said. “It’s time for the parents and the people of Wrenshall to get involved in making the decision, not just the board.”