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LETTERS: All options should be considered in Carlton

To the Editor:

I have been attending the Carlton School Board meetings since the April 5 public meeting at the Public House in Carlton. Maybe I am a late bloomer, but my eyes and ears have been opened as to what the Carlton School Board and District vision for the upcoming special referendum for facilities on Aug. 8, 2017. The board wants to bond between $22-28 million with the district taxpayers. This would include renovating South Terrace Elementary and an addition for a new high school on the same site as Question One on the ballot. Adding a 250- to 350-seat auditorium for educational purposes and community use, updating the playground, softball field, track, football field lights and bleachers and the tennis court are part of Question Two on the ballot.

I highly recommend community members attend the upcoming Community Outreach meetings to ask the tough questions that cannot be asked at board meetings or committee of the whole meetings. I feel they have not fully explored all options available. They have made up their minds against consolidation with Wrenshall School District and taken it off the table at this point. Our small school district would still be a small school district if consolidated with Wrenshall.

Has Cloquet School District been explored for consolidation by the consultants hired by the district? Brainerd School District is about the size of Carlton County. Why does the county have seven school districts? Statistics from the Minnesota State Demographic Center shows flat growth for Carlton County through 2045. Is the 5 percent contingency money for construction, which could be $1.4 million more, figured into the bond money? Consolidation could supply funds for facilities and other expenses from the state. Is additional money available for instructors for additional courses wanted included? The additional tax burden will be very hard for many over the 20 years of the bond. This doesn't include tax court litigation continuing through the courts that could impact taxpayers as well. More needs to be done to be fiscally responsible.

Our kids deserve a great education that we can afford as taxpayers, if all options are considered.

Ken Witte