For the third time in just more than two years, voters rejected a referendum for the Wrenshall School District.

By a vote of 513 to 418, voters denied a request for $14.4 million in renovations and repairs to the small district’s facilities Tuesday, May 14. Similar referendums failed in November 2018 and April 2017.

Approximately 50 Wrenshall students, faculty and residents gathered in the school commons to await returns. The mood was jubilant until Wrenshall School Board Vice President Janaki Fisher-Merritt announced that more than 55 percent of those voting rejected district’s request.

“I know our district,” Fisher-Merritt told the group. “We’re a strong school, we’re a strong community and we’ll get through this.”

The priorities in Wrenshall's newest referendum were similar to the past two votes. The new plan budgeted more than $5 million to replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system and $1.5 million to build a gym addition. The plan included more than $800,000 to remodel elementary classrooms and $421,000 for roof repairs. It also included nearly $1 million to convert the pool area into more classroom space.

Fisher-Merritt was hesitant to lay out any next steps after the failed vote. He said he needed to meet with the Wrenshall Facilities Committee and others before making any decisions about the future of the district.

The Wrenshall School Board had hoped, if approved, the renovated facilities would serve the needs of the Carlton and Wrenshall communities in a future consolidated district.

Since the failure of the November referendum, the Carlton School Board has voted several times to open consolidation talks with Wrenshall.

The Wrenshall School Board has refused to begin negotiations unless Carlton first agrees to a plan that includes two facilities: an elementary school in Carlton and a middle and high school in Wrenshall.

“All along our plan for the renovation was to make it available for a combined district and make it workable for that,” Fisher-Meritt said. “I don’t know that this changes anything.”