Carlton schools ask voters to renew operating levy in November

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On Nov. 8, Carlton School District residents are being asked to vote to renew an Operating Tax Levy that currently generates about $560,000 each year that is used for general operating expenses of the district. Because this is a continuation of a tax levy that was approved in 2010, it won’t result in an increase to property taxes if it passes. On the other hand, if it fails, property owners in the Carlton district would see a reduction in the school district portion of their taxes.

They would also see a negative impact on both schools.

“That money is used for everything from books to technology to staff wages,” said Carlton Superintendent Gwen Carman, explaining that the funds go into the district’s general fund and can be used for just about anything.

Carlton isn’t unique. Close to 99 percent of Minnesota schools have operating levies, something Carman said is necessary because the state legislature admittedly doesn’t fund schools adequately.

“Therefore, if you need funds, you need to ask your local taxpayers,” she said.

The relatively new superintendent, who started in January, began a series of community meetings last week when she spoke to the Twin Lakes Township Board and the Carlton City Council. Today there is a more detailed presentation being held at 6 p.m. at Carlton High School for anyone who wants to come with more meetings to come (see “Carlton School levy renewal meetings” with this story).

Carman said the reception so far has been very positive, both from the meetings and a recent telephone survey that indicated community members are very supportive of renewing the operating levy.

“I want to make sure people understand the operating levy, and I also want to make sure people vote,” she said. “It’s great if they support it, but it doesn’t help if they don’t vote.”

Compared to other area schools, Carlton’s operating levy falls in the mid-range in terms of expense, costing the owner of a $150,000 home approximately $525 a year versus $475 in Wrenshall, $604 in Esko, $701 in Cromwell and $889 in Cloquet. The state average is $608.

Carman is optimistic about the upcoming vote.

“I am amazed at the pride and commitment by the Carlton-area communities to seeing the schools remain strong,” she said. “Continuing to make the schools stronger benefits the students and the community.”

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Carlton School levy renewal meetings

See the following list for a number of public information meetings regarding the renewal of an operating tax levy that helps fund the Carlton School District. The presentations generally last less than an hour.

-Carlton High School –  6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22

-Perch Lake Town Hall – 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 26

-Sawyer Community Center – 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27

-Inter-Faith Care Center – 3 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3

-Retired Senior Citizen Group - 8:15 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5 at Spirit’s Restaurant