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To the Editor: Focus should be on quality academics, not buildings

To the Editor:

In researching information about our school, I came across the Minnesota Department of Education website's schools report card at One part of the report card displays proficiency scores in reading, math and science.

Wrenshall does not compare well to most schools in Carlton County or to the state as a whole.

In 2016 Wrenshall School District scored 52.7 percent in math proficiency (a slight improvement over the last few years) while the state average was 59.5 percent. Our reading proficiency for all grades was 50.6 percent (consistently declining over the last several years) compared with 59.9 percent statewide. And our science proficiency was 43.1 percent (very slight improvement) while the state overall was 55 percent.

When looking at just the high school scores, only Carlton does worse than Wrenshall in math and science. (Barnum is also worse in math; Carlton is a better in reading.) Esko and Cloquet scores are well above state averages.

In last week's article about the Carlton referendum, "Carlton residents to vote on funds for new school," a Carlton teacher said "a lot (of the students who open-enroll out of the Carlton school district) leave because of the (poor condition of the) facilities." May I suggest that it is much more likely that the students leave because of the school's poor academic performance?

Given that other schools in Carlton County are able to score well, I think perhaps we at Wrenshall and Carlton both need to re-direct energy and resources currently being expended on non-essentials like building referenda and focus more on providing quality academics for all our students.

Cindy Bourn