Carlton School Board cuts section at South Terrace Elementary School

The board voted to reduce South Terrace Elementary School by one section next year among other reductions at its meeting Monday, April 18.

South Terrace Elementary School
File / Pine Journal

CARLTON — The Carlton School Board cut a section at South Terrace Elementary School for next year, as well as several other reductions aimed at trimming its fiscal year 2023 budget deficit during its meeting Monday, April 18.

The decision to vote on the cuts Monday was due to a combination of legal and statutory reasons, according to Superintendent John Engstrom. The district may revisit the moves at a later date with the possibility of bringing eliminated items back, if they are affordable.

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“There are statutory and legal reasons between why we have to do these, and why we have to do them now,” Engstrom said. “You can do them now and you might be able to build some or all of the reductions back later. If you don’t cut them now, then you cannot make any reductions at a later date.”

Officials anticipate a budget shortfall of $500,000 this year, which they hope to cut in half for the fiscal year 2023.

After discussion regarding the possible reduction of one section at South Terrace Elementary School at the April 11 committee of the whole meeting, the action was made official Monday. The board voted 4-2 in favor of the proposal, with Tim Hagenah and Susan Karp opposed.


At the April 11 meeting, Engstrom and Pre-K-12 Principal Ben Midge said that based on current numbers, officials would likely cut a section at South Terrace. The action allows the school district to save $44,611.25, according to information provided at the March 21 board meeting.

A resolution to eliminate in-person art classes failed on a 3-3 vote. Ann Gustafson, Hagenah and Karp opposed the motion, while board Chair Julianne Emerson, Sam Ojibway and Eryn Szymczak voted in favor of the move.

“I’ve said this at past meetings: I think art and music get the cuts, and I don’t want that to happen,” Karp said. “So for that reason, I won’t support his motion.”

The vote comes as the district considers expanding its online course options through Edgenuity for art, business and health classes.

The latter two courses were also included as agenda items, and the board voted to eliminate in person health courses 5-1. The proposal to reduce business classes to one section at Carlton Middle School and two sections at the high school passed 4-2.

Hagenah, who voted no on all of the reduction resolutions, expressed his preference for making cuts to Schedule C items rather than electives.

“I did state back a good month ago that until I see extracurriculars on this list, I’m not going to start cutting sections of this, sections of that,” Hagenah said. “Everything we’re talking about tonight affects (grades) K-12.”

The final resolution, passed by the board in a 4-2 vote, combines its band course into one section. District parents and a student spoke out against the proposal prior to the vote. District band/music teacher Sharrie Janovick gave an impassioned plea to reject the motion as well.


“If you make this cut, the kids will be gone, and you will be the cause of the district’s failure,” Janovick said. “Every district around us except for Wrenshall offers grade-appropriate band with lessons and an appropriate music-time structure in the elementary school.”

The board will meet next on May 18. The previously scheduled committee of the whole meeting for May was canceled.

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