Blame for Carltons financial problems goes back further than this board
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Duane Soukkala had a message for the folks at Monday’s Carlton School Board meeting: “Blame me.”
Soukkala resigned in frustration from his school board seat 13 or 14 years ago, when the board voted to hire Dave Battaglia as full-time principal at the high school.
Looking at the elementary school numbers back then, he said, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the numbers (and the fact that the high school would have fewer students in the future).
“You could see where the money was going to be in a few years,” he said, expressing regret that he resigned instead of fighting poor financial decisions.
“This isn’t a problem that started in the last two or three years,” Soukkala said, adding that people should quit pointing fingers at the current board as the sole culprit. “It’s been going on since I resigned. … Every board member all the way through has to take some of the blame.”
About 30 residents attended Monday’s regularly scheduled Carlton School Board meeting, when the board approved
minutes for the rash of recent special meetings concerning the district’s dire financial straits, discussed the need to hire a business manager with school-finance experience and approved the contract for the newly hired superintendent, Peter Haapala.
Again, community members pressured the board for better communication about anything to do with plans for a November referendum as well as developments in the four required plans for dealing with the district’s ongoing statutory operating debt (SOD).
Haapala has posted a Minnesota Department of Education power-point presentation explaining SOD, as well as a list of upcoming meetings under “Hot News” on the district’s
Board member Ryan Schmidt is also e-mailing updates to interested community members and the board will note
meeting times on the Bulldogs electronic sign in the middle
On Monday, the board also planned a series of community meetings to work on the SOD and referendum proposals from 6-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through July 6 (at least) in the high school library (or small gym if it’s a big crowd).
The first meeting was Tuesday; about 20 people attended.
“Most of the discussion focused on the referendum and planning how we are going to get the message across to voters,” Haapala said Wednesday morning, adding that the board has not decided how much per pupil unit the district would ask for in the referendum, or whether to pursue another two-part referendum.
~ Jana Peterson/Pine Journal