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Proposed Carlton, Wrenshall co-op agreement remains in limbo

Despite passing the agreement in July, the Carlton School District is now waiting for Wrenshall to act on it as board members claim the proposal was not what was agreed upon in prior meetings.

File: Carlton High School
Carlton High School Katie Rohman / 2019 file / Pine Journal
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CARLTON — The proposed cooperative agreement between the Carlton and Wrenshall school districts is still on pause after the Carlton School Board meeting on Monday, Aug. 15.

While the Carlton board approved the cooperative agreement on July 18 , the Wrenshall board tabled its decision on Aug. 3 after members said the agreement passed by Carlton was not what was discussed between the districts.

Carlton Superintendent John Engstrom gave an update to the board and said as of now Carlton just needs to wait, but he was concerned with comments made by Wrenshall board members.

"Accepting or rejecting the agreement is entirely within the authority of the Wrenshall board. That's not the problem," he said. "The problem is that accusations were made regarding the language of the agreement."

The agreement that was approved by Carlton would add longevity to the current cooperative agreements the two districts have in place, and Engstrom said it allows for the two districts to meet regularly and discuss adding more sports or other extracurricular activities.

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Some of the comments made by Wrenshall board members included baseball not being part of the cooperative agreement.

In his report, Engstrom said the agreement was emailed to both districts in June and no concerns were raised.

"The Carlton board can decide if they want to sanction another committee meeting," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, the work of the committee is done."

Once a decision is made by the Wrenshall board, Engstrom said then Carlton can respond.

Engstrom added that while the new agreement has not been passed, it does not impact any of the sports that already have agreements for, such as football or track and field.

In other district news, the board members held a work session before their regular meeting where they discussed possible approaches to the operational tax levy, possible updates to the district's website, and board member Ann Gustafson said she would not be seeking reelection this year.

Gustafson informed the board that she would be taking a break after serving on boards for 20 years.

"Almost half of my life, so I just decided I'm going to take a couple of years to have a break," she said.

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Discussions on the operational tax levy centered around how long the district should make it for and if the levy should be changed.

Board members discussed the need of having a long-term plan for the district to ultimately know how they should approach setting the levy. The district has over a year to decide, as voters would see the question on the ballot in November 2023.

The current operational levy is for seven years, and Engstrom said the district can adopt a five-, seven- or 10-year operational levy.

Engstrom said if the board chose to go with a longer levy, it should think about raising the amount so that it would be locked in.

Board member Tim Hagenah said the district should think about changing the levy to help with its financial situation.

"We just can't sit where we are at and think that what we are getting will be enough," he said.

Engstrom said if the district kept the levy the same and enrollment continued to trend down it would make things difficult.

When it came to updating the district's website, Engstrom said a quote from a different company to host the website came in expensive, but he wanted to bring it to the board's attention as it would be a big improvement.

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Currently the district spends $5,000 to $6,000 a year, and Engstrom said the new proposal would be around $8,800 a year.

While it would be a significant increase, Engstrom said the district's website is in need of an update and the current provider has not shown they can make it better.

Board member Sam Ojibway said while there is a big price increase, if the website was able to bring in one family it would effectively pay for itself.

Board chair Julianne Emerson added that a new website would help with recruiting teachers, too, as one of the first things someone researching a district does is look at the website.

Engstrom said the new hosting company would also come with better communication channels for the district to reach out to parents.

Emerson said that improved communications would be good at informing parents about events in the district and could get more participation.

While the decision has yet to be placed on a board agenda, Engstrom advised board members to look over a promotional video so that the topic could be brought up for discussion at the next committee of the whole meeting on Sept. 12.

MORE FROM DYLAN SHERMAN:
A total of 106 residents signed a petition against Loving Earth Memorial Gardens, a new green cemetery located in Blackhoof Township.

Related Topics: EDUCATIONCARLTONCARLTON SCHOOLS
Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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