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Carlton schools 'community visioning' meeting set for Tuesday

Carlton School District residents, your time has come.

Efforts by district officials and community advisers to gather input on the future of the schools have been underway since spring, with community member interviews and a staff visioning session completed. Next up is a Community Visioning meeting on Tuesday, June 26, at 6 p.m. in the small gym at the high school. The final step will be a digital survey.

Superintendent Gwen Carman said 15 volunteer advisers interviewed 36 community members in April with methods and results handled by a consultant hired by the school district. The consultant worked to make sure the advisers represented a wide range of residents, with different ages, family demographics, income and viewpoints represented. They tried to make sure the residents interviewed also represented all the different demographics in the district.

"It's not a simple process, but I feel it's what we need to do now to help the district and the community come together for a vision for the district," Carman told the Pine Journal after the school board meeting Monday. "Advisors will have multiple sources of input, as well as their own perspective, to ultimately help form the recommendation to the school board. It is my hope that the process — the teachers' input, the community interviews, the community meeting, the digital survey — will all be sources of information to help inform them, again, with their own perspective, helping inform them what they think will be the next best steps."

Rather than anyone standing at a podium talking and taking questions, the plan for the community meeting is to have tables set up around the gym for small group sessions.

At least two advisers will sit at each table, to discuss and take notes regarding the following open-ended questions:

• How would you envision the education of Carlton's students in a perfect world with no limitations?

• What obstacles stand in the way of realizing your ideal vision for educating Carlton's students?

• What would build ongoing community involvement in and support for the education of Carlton District students?

Carman is hopeful that many community members come to the meeting Tuesday, even those who have already been interviewed.

"I would strongly encourage everyone to attend who has any interest at all in the process," she said. "It's not only about giving your input, it's also about hearing other's perspectives and ideas and concerns so that you better understand the situation and potential options and outcomes for the district."

Carlton School Board members got to see the results of the staff visioning session and individual community interviews at the June 11 Committee of the Whole meeting.

Those summaries — which detail a wide range of opinions — are available to the public online at the district website, www.carlton.k12.mn.us. Once there, scroll down to Quick Links and find "Community Visioning Meeting on June 26th." Click on that and inside the brief are blue links to a summary of teacher discussions and community interviews.

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