Carlton School Board approves hire of two new principals

Donita Stepan will serve as the full-time principal at South Terrace Elementary School, while Warren Peterson will be a part-time principal at Carlton Middle/High School.

File: Carlton High School
Carlton High School.
Katie Rohman / 2019 file / Pine Journal
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CARLTON — The hiring of two new principals to serve at Carlton School District’s South Terrace Elementary School and Cloquet Middle/High School was approved by the School Board at its Monday, June 20, meeting at Carlton High School.

The new hires come in the wake of former K-12 principal Ben Midge’s resignation following his acceptance of a new position as the elementary school principal in the Dover-Eyota School District.

Former Thief River Falls School District Superintendent Donita Stepan will be the full-time principal at South Terrace Elementary School after being selected from a pool of 10 applicants. Stepan interviewed for the position on Thursday, June 16, along with four other candidates.

“We did have one candidate who emerged as the clear, consensus top-choice from both of the interview teams. She (Stepan) has verbally accepted our offer,” Superintendent John Engstrom informed the board.

The hiring of Warren Peterson as a part-time principal at Carlton Middle/High School was also approved by the board. Peterson previously served as the Cloquet High School principal for two decades before announcing his retirement in June 2018. Peterson returned as the interim principal at Carlton Middle/High School in fall 2019, prior to Midge’s hiring.


Carlton Superintendent John Engstrom said Peterson is a perfect fit for the position.

“He’s been in the building before and he has extensive experience as a building administrator,” Engstrom said of Peterson.

Both hires officially go into effect July 1.

The farm, located in Cromwell, was originally purchased in 1918 by Charles and Wilhelmena Anderson for $6.20 per acre.

Board approves 2022-2023 budget

After months of planning, discussion and reductions aimed at trimming its roughly $500,000 deficit, the board officially approved its 2023 budget at Monday’s meeting with a new projected deficit of $348,101.

The deficit accounts for a shortfall within the district’s main operating fund, the general fund, which amounts to $368,901. Anticipated revenue in the general fund is projected to be $4,874,222, while expenditures are expected to come in at $5,243,123.

The district’s overall deficit remains far less than what it faced in 2022 after seeing its total expenditures climb to $7,587,020 and revenues at $6,661,125 for a deficit of $925,895.

“The projected deficit is significantly less than what we had adopted last year, and reduced even further from what we revised to mid-year,” Carlton School District Business Manager Norman Nelis said.

Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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