Board continues trimming budget, votes for new grass at football fieldsCloquet school board members continued their fight against a growing budget deficit as they reviewed their current list of budget cuts during Monday night’s regular meeting. “It’s important to continue to look at reductions to bite at that deficit,” Superintendent Ken Scarbrough said.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Cloquet school board members continued their fight against a growing budget deficit as they reviewed their current list of budget cuts during Monday night’s regular meeting.
“It’s important to continue to look at reductions to bite at that deficit,” Superintendent Ken Scarbrough said.
As of Monday, the list of budget cuts totaled more than $572,000. The updated list has a $10,000 reduction for summer school, but removed a planned cut of $37,000 for textbooks and curriculum materials. After looking at the textbooks that will need to be purchased, administrators felt the reduction would be difficult to deal with.
Another cost-saving measure board members considered was contracting out the business manager services. Currently, Kim Josephson serves as the district’s business manager, but he will be retiring after this school year. However, Josephson wanted to continue to work with the district part-time with their budget and other business- and funding-related issues.
By forming his own business, Regional Resources, Josephson can offer the district business management services as a lower cost than if the district were to hire a new manager. The business management services will cost the district about $98,000. Compared to hiring a new manager, the district will save around $46,000.
All present school board members voted unanimously to utilize Josephson’s new business for the district’s business management. Board member Dan Danielson was not present to vote.
In other school board business, current Cloquet High School Assistant Principal Connie Hyde will now serve as the principal for the Cloquet Area Alternative Education Program (CAAEP). Hyde will still serve at the high school, but her time will be divided between the two schools. This decision came after the current CAAEP principal, Steve Syrett, decided to resign at the end of the current school year.
Board members were a bit concerned about Hyde splitting her time and wondered if the high school could go without a full-time assistant principal. High School Principal Warren Peterson assured the board that the school would do its best to adjust.
“Do I wish we had a full-time assistant?” Peterson asked. “Absolutely. But that’s the nature of the beast. We’re cutting.”
After some discussion, board members all voted in favor of Hyde working with the CAAEP students, and are confident in her abilities to do a good job.
“To me it’s a very natural fit,” Hyde said.
And finally, despite all the talks of budget cuts and reductions, the board approved the renovation of the stadium field at CHS. Years of wear and tear and an improper grass species has made the field less than desirable. The grass, which is more suitable for a golf green, deteriorates after some bad weather and about a month of use.
The lowest bid for the project came in at $28,000 from Professional Turf & Renovation out of Big Lake, Minn. This cost covers the removal of the old sod, installation of new sod and fertilizer. Normally the project would cost a bit more, but Tom Lenarz – the school’s football coach and activities director – was able to enlist some student volunteers to help install the new field.
Despite the savings, not all board members were enthused to be spending thousands of dollars on the project.
“We’re worried about buying textbooks, but we’re going to put another $28,000 into this?” board member Jim Crowley asked.
Others felt while the project may look costly, it will actually help the district in the long run with lower maintenance costs.
“The football field is just an expensive thing to maintain,” Scarbrough said. He also told board members that administrators went through the district’s capital budget for next year, and with some reductions in some areas, the project is well within the capital budget for next year.
After some discussion, the motion passed 3-2 in favor of installing the new sod. Board members Jim and Sandy Crowley voted against the proposal. The project will be completed this summer.