Only last year the people of Carlton ISD 93 were caught in a heated war of words over the future of their schools and their community. Battle lines were drawn over a $23.6 million-$26.9 million school bonding referendum, deepening chronic divisions within the district.
While the community voted decisively (1202—475) against the referendum, the vote did little to end the animosity or restore civility to the discussion about the future of ISD 93. Tired of all of the bickering, the public may have then preferred to quietly let past wounds heal, and leave such big decisions to future referendums.
Common-ground solutions can be difficult to find, but an independent survey of district residents last fall and recent interviews and public discussions conducted by the district's Community Advisory Committee reveal the community is largely in agreement in many key areas: strong support for both students and teachers; improving the quality and diversity of the educational options offered by the district; finding cooperative, community-based solutions to address school needs; and keeping consolidation and other viable alternatives on the table for serious consideration.
Through this process, the mutual respect and diverse insights shared among both community and Advisory Committee members has signaled a hopeful return to civil discourse in the district.
In contrast, having warned the public that it would levy if the referendum failed, the School Board stubbornly readied its "Plan B:" a set of non-voter-approved levies (NVALs) that will cost the taxpayers millions. With over $5 million in NVALs contracted this summer and over $9 million under consideration for next year, the Board has pushed ahead, often with little justification other than it has the legal power to levy.
At a time when much of the community claims a different, more collaborative vision of the future, the Board has broken its sacred bonds of trust and accountability with the public in pursuit of its own non-voter-approved vision.