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Carlton schools get upgrade

This is "back-to-school week" across Minnesota. While for some, this week is "the most wonderful time of the year;" for others, it is hectic, exciting, stressful and anxiety provoking.

There is no doubt, however, that it is a time of year that is unique, and its significance can't be overstated. Public education is a core component of our democracy. Our citizens' — today's students — and country's future is dependent on those of us who work in schools and the parents and guardians who support students doing our job well.

This fall is particularly busy for Carlton Schools. Over the summer, we have done improvements to both our middle/high school and South Terrace Elementary facilities.

The middle/high school had much painting done in the halls, gym and classrooms done by our staff, as well as by volunteer teachers, students and parents. The Bulldog Spirit Club purchased new exterior signs by the gym and main entrances. The parking lots and sidewalks also received significant improvements.

There is a new sidewalk that goes in front of the Bulldog. This sidewalk enables the main entrance to be an Americans with Disabilities Act-approved, handicapped-accessible entrance. We can now relocate the handicapped doors to the main entrance and keep the other entrance locked during the school day. The existing sloped sidewalk is too steep for ADA requirements.

South Terrace received improvements to its air quality and fire suppression systems and needed improvements to the parking lots and sidewalks. These projects make the building safer and more comfortable for student learning and staff performance, and included needed painting, replacement of lights and cabinetry and more.

The Carlton community advisers were volunteer residents and received feedback about the future of our district from other residents in a variety of ways the past six months. The advisers met several times to discuss the opinions they heard, their own opinions and options. They then made their strategic planning recommendations to the School Board on Aug. 13. The board met on Aug. 21 and discussed the recommendations, and will do so again Sept. 10.

There was overall support for the advisers' recommendations and the next steps will include revising some of the wording and drafting implementation plans.

I greatly appreciate the time and energy the advisers put into this process and hope residents will continue to stay informed as we move forward with this important planning.

Another important event this fall is School Board elections Nov. 6. Three of the board's six seats are open, and nine residents submitted their names to be on the ballot. I appreciate that so many people stepped up with a willingness to serve on the board as this is a time-consuming commitment and a challenging responsibility.

We are working with the Pine Journal to have a Carlton School Board candidates forum on Wednesday, Oct. 3, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at South Terrace. The forum will be facilitated by Michelle Lee and will include opening and closing statements by each candidate and specific questions. Carlton district residents are encouraged to attend and so they can make an informed decision when they vote.

Regardless of which school district you live in, I thank you for your support of students, staff and public education.