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To the Editor: Let's work on better educational solutions for Carlton students

To the Editor:

The Carlton School Board recently produced a video promoting the passage of the upcoming school bond referendum. The video highlights significant maintenance problems with the existing Carlton school facilities, and the secondary school in particular. While the facilities are clearly a problem, the Aug. 8 referendum narrowly defines the nature of the complex problems in the district, and offers the wrong solution.

The bonding referendum asks for $26.9 million to build new facilities. The district estimates that this will cost the homeowners of a $150,000 home an additional $510 per year, if both facilities questions are passed. In recent years, voters in the district have twice passed operating levy referendums, having demonstrated good faith with the district that operating costs and educational challenges can be met.

While the Carlton Schools are certainly in need of significant repair and maintenance, facilities are not the crux of the real problems in the Carlton School District. Can we address the fundamental reasons why student enrollment continues to plummet, as many Carlton students choose to go elsewhere? Carlton School now graduates an average of less than 30 students per year.

The 2016 MCA Proficiency tests reveal that we are falling short educationally — only 47 percent proficiency in reading, 44 percent in math, and 31 percent in science at Carlton secondary. And, Carlton students average only 17.9 versus the state and county-wide average of 20.4 on ACT tests. We've got to do better! Teacher pay and subsequent teacher retention in Carlton are low. Our kids need us to hang on to our best teachers. And, our kids need us to invest in up-to-date textbooks, supplies, and technology.

Timothy Soden-Groves