School Consolidation Could Save Carlton, Wrenshall $1.5 M A Year

Consultant Unveils Results of Consolidation Study

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Two small rival schools are faced with a big decision to combine as one.

Three months ago, Carlton and Wrenshall schools hired a consultant to explore the benefits of a combined district, and Monday they presented what they found.

One-and-a-half million dollars a year is how much the two schools could save if they decide to combine.

Monday evening, about 100 people, including both school boards, packed Wrenshall School to hear the results.

The study shows both schools are in serious debt, and if they combine, the debt will be spread across both districts.

With Minnesota school consolidation laws, the newly formed district will have a chance to get $20 million to build an entirely new building or a $10 million grant for renovations.

“There’s some good things that could happen because of consolidation as far as what both districts could offer together as in educational programming,” said managing director with Robert W. Baird Public Finance, Mike Hoheisel.

If the schools combine, the new district will have about 800 students.

With two schools, come two administrations, so a combination would cut multiple positions from both staffs.

The consultant found when it comes to buildings the best thing to do is close Carlton high school right away, and downsize to two facilities.

One would be for kindergarten to 6th grade and another for high school.

With more students in the district, the experts say the school will have the opportunity to offer more classes, which means a better education.

“Our kids and students are important to us and we want what’s best for all of our students,” said superintendent of Wrenshall Schools, Kimberly Belcastro. “So coming together because we’re rivals is a big deal but it might be necessary and the time for it.”

In the next few weeks, both districts will be putting out a survey asking community members if they think combining is a good idea.

Each school board is expected to vote early February.

If everything goes as planned, the schools could be officially combined July 1, 2015.

Two community meetings — breaking down the results — are happening in both towns Jan. 26.

Wrenshall’s meeting will be at 6:00 p.m. at the Wrenshall School.

Carlton’s meeting will also be at 6:00 p.m. at the Carlton School Gym.

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