Building for the future of Carlton Public Schools
The Carlton School Board held a special meeting Monday, March 14, and ratified the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Carlton Education Association. The bargaining unit had ratified the agreement at a meeting in February. The agreement does...
The Carlton School Board held a special meeting Monday, March 14, and ratified the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Carlton Education Association. The bargaining unit had ratified the agreement at a meeting in February. The agreement does not include any increase on the teachers' salary schedule. Teachers who were eligible did receive step, lane, and longevity increases. In order to settle the agreement the board also approved the settlement of two outstanding grievances involving pay for extra assignments.
Immediately following the special meeting, the board began a work session to discuss the future of the district. The work session began with a presentation by Terry Gogerty of Mercury Online regarding the possibilities of developing a Carlton Online School. Superintendent Peter Haapala had met with Gogerty at the Virtual School Symposium in November 2010. The vision for a Carlton Online School in partnership with Mercury Online would be to establish a college prep, teacher-led statewide online education program that offers a new, effective public school option, supports the Carlton academic programs through collaboration and online course options such as Advanced Placement, foreign language, credit recovery, etc. and provides the Carlton School District with new revenue. An online program would also offer additional employment opportunities for district educators.
In order to prepare the district for the future, the board has to first deal with the current fiscal realities. The district is in greater debt than was anticipated last summer when board members approved three different state-required plans to get out of statutory operating debt (SOD). The district's unreserved/undesignated fund balance at end of the current fiscal year (June 30, 2011) is now projected to be $1,245,249. That puts the schools at more than $1.2 million in the red.
Voters in the district approved an operating referendum levy last November, a vote that essentially saved the district as an independent entity. Now the board has the task of crafting the district into a leaner, more efficient, and fiscally responsible entity.
Following the directive of the board, the administration and staff members have made many recommendations. All areas of the budget have been considered: administration, certified staff, community service, custodial/maintenance, food service, support staff, and transportation. Reductions in all areas have been made or will be recommended.
The area of greatest concern is how classrooms will be affected. It is important to note that, while administrators are recommending the board reduce five to six full-time equivalents of teacher time, the district still has a lot to offer. Class sizes, although larger than they were, still compare well with surrounding districts. Students at Carlton High School will still have the opportunity to earn up to 40 college credits through "College in the Schools" classes. Extra-curricular offerings remain strong through sharing agreements with neighboring districts. Although changes need to be made for 2011-2012, it is believed that these changes will not only assure the district's future but provide the basis for new opportunities for students to excel in the twenty-first century.