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Surviving is not always thriving

To the Editor:

My name is Kevin Olesen, and I live in the Wrenshall school district. My family moved to Wrenshall when my daughter was 1 year old. We have since added two younger brothers to our clan since we settled in here 13 years ago. My kids attend school in Wrenshall. Let’s be honest, however —  that’s not a given with open enrollment and the current state of our proud school. I am also a member of the CAWS (Carlton and Wrenshall School Consolidation) committee.  I’ve spoken to several people regarding the schools in our districts and the thing they all say is the kids have to come first.  I will say here, I agree!  

I am 100 percent behind giving kids in both districts the best possible experience and opportunity in school.  These 13 years they spend in those halls, classrooms, and gyms can set them up for success for the next 70 to 80 years of their lives.  I believe that if kids have a positive total educational experience, they will generally go on to some kind of post secondary program and become productive members of society.  It’s also been my experience that as they grow their own families they will want the same positive experience for their children. That means young educated families will reinvest back into our community.    

I don’t believe that separately either school is reaching its full potential, and there are several factors as to why.  We’ve got two schools roughly in the same boat with respects to budget/revenue, and enrollment, less than 5 miles apart. Both schools have close to the highest in state open enrollment out of their district. Both have resources that are in need of updating.  Both schools have had trouble filling out their athletic teams, and are faced with playing younger kids against basically adults, or simply cutting that program. Finally, both schools are simply surviving and must make hard decisions on what teachers to retain, where they can reinvest, and what programs they have to cut.   

I believe we owe it to ourselves, and our kids, to investigate if it makes sense to find a better way to manage it all. There will be challenges, there will be passionate discussion, and it will not be easy. However, if we work together openly and let go of past biases, I know we can find solutions.  

Kevin Olesen