New administrative structure progresses for Carlton Schools

The school board is expected to vote on contracts for Donita Stepan and Warren Peterson at its March 20 meeting in light of recent administrative changes.

File: Carlton High School
Carlton High School Katie Rohman / 2019 file / Pine Journal

CARLTON — The Carlton School Board discussed the next steps for the district during its Tuesday, Feb. 21 meeting in light of last week’s announcement by Superintendent John Engstrom that he will step down at the end of the school year.

What’s certain is that Donita Stepan will be his successor while maintaining her role as South Terrace Elementary School Principal, while part-time Carlton Middle/High School Principal Warren Peterson will likely take on an expanded role.

The finer details surrounding the arrangement for both staff members is still to be determined, however.

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“Do we want to try to search for a dean? Do we want to have Donita over at the high school one day a week just kind of working from here? Do we want to have some teachers on sixth assignments with some administrator oversight responsibilities or do we want to look at something else? Those are going to kind of be the fill-in-the-blank parts that still need to get worked out,” Engstrom shared in a phone interview.

The newly-formed District Advisory Committee will work on some of those specifics, including contracts for Stepan and Peterson. The committee consists of community members, elementary and high school staff, Indian Education staff and some board members.


The committee's goal is to have contracts ready for the school board to vote on at its March 20 meeting.

“The certified negotiations team will meet and come up with a plan to present before the board with the new administrative structure (and) see if we can work out a contract (for) Donita and Warren so those things are solidified,” Board Chair Julianne Emerson said in a phone interview.

The Carlton School Board will reconvene for its monthly Committee of the Whole meeting on March 13 at Carlton High School.

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