District will save more than $300,000 with insurance switchFor the first time in months, the primary discussion during the Cloquet School Board’s Monday meeting did not revolve around next year’s budget or which programs to cut.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
For the first time in months, the primary discussion during the Cloquet School Board’s Monday meeting did not revolve around next year’s budget or which programs to cut.
A majority of the meeting was spent discussing the district’s change in health care providers. Representatives of the company Health Partners approached the board with information and to answer any questions. After lengthy discussion, a unanimous vote resulted in the district forgoing their 28-year relationship with Blue Cross Blue Shield in favor of a two-year contract with Health Partners – a move that will save the district “well over $300,000,” said Superintendent Ken Scarbrough. Those who are covered under the district’s plan will see little change in their insurance coverage, according to Health Partner representatives.
The most controversial discussion of the night focused on the Community Education competition cheerleading squad. The Cloquet Senior High School cheerleading program was cut in an earlier spring meeting. In a discussion on the Community Education program, Sandy Crowley made the motion to cut it altogether, with Jim Crowley seconding the motion. The board voted, and with the only yeas coming from the Crowleys, the motion failed and no action was taken against the program.
The competition cheerleading squad is an active squad made up of students from Cloquet, Esko and Carlton. There is now also the possibility of a “sideline” cheerleading group through Community Education. This sideline group would function similarly to the majorettes, a program that was cut six years ago. They would be able to perform at a limited number of Cloquet High School sporting events.
With the board’s previous cuts, Community Education has dance line, majorette and competitive cheerleading groups “to run through the school, through our program,” said Community Education Director Sara Liimatainen.
The notion that competition cheerleading can be “a very dangerous sport” was the main concern raised by the board, according to Scarbrough. This danger is what prompted Sandy Crowley to make her motion.
“I could care less about the insurance part of it,” Sandy Crowley said. “It’s that someone could get hurt; someone could be maimed for life.”
Cheerleading Coach Jessica Makowsky said she is well aware of the dangers her cheerleaders face while performing stunts and has taken many precautions to keep her participants safe.
“I have an emergency plan that I discuss with the girls at the beginning of each season, I am CPR and AED certified through the American Red Cross, I have many certifications through various cheerleading classes that teach me how to properly and safely teach the cheerleaders to stunt,” Makowsky wrote in an e-mail to the board. She explained that the Minnesota State High School League has specific certifications, which she has, and regulations that she follows.
In other school board business, the board approved the hire of Chelsea Annette as a Churchill Elementary kindergarten teacher, Stephanie Gibson as a special education coordinator for the Northern Lights Special Education Cooperative and Rebecca Fuhrman as a
developmental Early Five teacher at Churchill Elementary.
The board also approved the posting of the following position vacancies:
• Indian home school liaison at Churchill
• Ojibwe language teacher at Cloquet Middle School
• Success for the Future Program grant
• School psychologist
The Central Administration Offices will be closed July 1 and 4 for the holiday. The next school board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. July 11 at Garfield School.