The Cloquet School Board unanimously approved a resolution Monday, Feb. 22, to grant superintendent Michael Cary and board chair Ted Lammi permission to enter into discussions with Carlton School District officials about future plans for the districts.

The resolution comes after officials in Carlton and Wrenshall decided earlier this month to pause conversations on consolidating the two school districts and explore other options.

At a recent Carlton School Board meeting, superintendent John Engstrom presented the board with two possible contingency plans — one being the construction of a Pre-K through grade 8 school at South Terrace Elementary School, and a tuition agreement with another district, such as Cloquet.

The tuition agreement would mean that all Carlton High School students would attend Cloquet High School starting in their freshman year. As part of the agreement, the Carlton School District would pay to have its students attend Cloquet High School, which Cary said would ensure fair taxes for Cloquet residents.

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Both superintendents emphasized that the resolution signifies the beginning of conversations and that no decisions have been made.

“We’re very, very early in this process,” Engstrom said in an interview with the Pine Journal. “This isn’t going to happen this year, and this isn’t going to happen next year.”

Cary echoed the same notion and emphasized that there is no talk of consolidation between Cloquet and Carlton. Any future proposals will be brought to the board before a final decision is made, he said.

Carlton High School class sections typically range from around 30-40 students per grade level. Cary said those numbers may fit well with Cloquet class sizes and allow for courses to be properly filled.

The Carlton School Board will consider a possible survey of the Carlton community regarding the district's future plans, Engstrom said.

He added that any concerns with COVID-19 pandemic guidelines will be taken into consideration upon the arrival of a possible decision, and that it is too early in the conversation to determine possible future procedures regarding the status of the pandemic.