Carlton School Board to re-interview residents
At a meeting on Monday, April 19, the board of directors voted unanimously in favor of conducting a new survey to gauge community support for a variety of options. Its cost is estimated at $ 9,000 for the district.
The board returns to School Perceptions Inc. to seek the views of residents on several avenues to follow.
In early 2020, School Perceptions asked residents of Carlton and Wrenshall about a potential consolidation of the two neighboring districts, with the majority in both districts reporting support for up to $ 40 million in renovations and improvements to South Terrace Primary School in Carlton and Wrenshall School.
The 2020 survey, however, did not include information showing that Carlton residents bore a larger tax increase than Wrenshall residents during consolidation if the debt between the two districts was shared equally. .
The issue became a stumbling block in negotiations between Wrenshall and Carlton school boards last fall. After needing the legislation did not obtain the approval of the Minnesota legislature last year, the councils agreed to suspend consolidation talks in February.
As Wrenshall moved forward with Phase II of its $ 9 million health and safety renovation project, Carlton began exploring other options, including building a pre-K-12 school in South Terrace or the construction of a pre-K-8 school in South Terrace and the negotiation of a tuition agreement with neighboring districts for high school students.
In December, Minneapolis design firm InGensa drew up preliminary plans for alternatives for the neighborhood. The plans included a $ 34.5 million, 82,000 square foot expansion of South Terrace in the pre-K-12 scenario and a $ 23 million, 54,000 square foot expansion in the pre-K-8 plan.
Estimates provided to the board in December showed that the cheapest option is consolidation, even if the debt is shared equally. The consolidation, however, is contingent on the Minnesota legislature changing a 2014 law that made school consolidations eligible for enhanced debt equalization assistance that would cover nearly half the cost of building South Terrace. and Wrenshall. Both councils have indicated that they are not interested in moving forward without state assistance.
Board chair Julianne Emerson acknowledged that the board’s main option is still consolidation with Wrenshall despite the talks being paused, but said the board needs to understand where the Carlton community stands on the other two options.
“We talked about the fact that there is a pause on No.1,” Emerson said. “When we talk about numbers and stuff, we don’t leave out (consolidation). But at this point, it looks like we’re focusing more on those emergency options. “
Board member Tim Hagenah was concerned about the the consolidation estimates were no longer valid because construction costs have increased since late 2019 and Wrenshall has moved forward with its health and safety bond.
“I think the consolidation plan is very skewed now, especially with the renovations done by Wrenshall,” Hagenah said. “This whole plan, in my mind, needs to be really revisited and revised, I guess, because of the improvements they’ve made.”
Health and safety renovations at Wrenshall were included in early drafts of the consolidation plan, when early construction estimates hit nearly $ 50 million. These costs were removed from the plans when Wrenshall chose to go ahead with the project independently, according to Wrenshall board member Jack Eudy, and would not change the work required in a consolidation of two. sites between districts.
John Engstrom said he will contact School Perceptions to begin developing a draft survey that Carlton’s board of directors will review in the coming weeks. He said he hoped the survey would be ready to send out to residents in late summer or early fall, with the results available several weeks later.