Community gives Cloquet School District high marksThe Cloquet Public Schools were given a “B” in quality of work by community members who were recently surveyed by Springsted, Inc. Superintendent Ken Scarbrough was “very pleased” with the results of the Springsted Survey, he said in Monday’s regular school board meeting, as the district received higher marks than the national average found in the annual Gallup Poll.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
The Cloquet Public Schools were given a “B” in quality of work by community members who were recently surveyed by Springsted, Inc. Superintendent Ken Scarbrough was “very pleased” with the results of the Springsted Survey, he said in Monday’s regular school board meeting, as the district received higher marks than the national average found in the annual Gallup Poll.
The Cloquet School District scored 10 percent and 11 percent higher in the “A” and “B” ranges, respectively, than the national average of the public’s opinion of public schools.
The survey’s purpose was to assess the community’s willingness to support a renewal or an increase in the district’s referendum as it is about to expire next year. The results of the survey show “the people of the district generally support [the referendum],” said John Will of Springsted, Inc.
The current operating levy has one year left until it will expire, Scarbrough explained.
“If we don’t renew in November, then next school year, we won’t have a referendum,” he said. With no referendum, that funding will not be there.
The existing referendum is at $97.61 for a home with a value of $130,000, Scarbrough said. An increase of the referendum could go up to an additional $75 per year, but the board is expecting a lower number at this time. Board members have not yet decided if the district will ask voters for a renewal of the existing referendum or a renewal and increase. That decision is expected at the next regular board meeting.
According to the survey results, an increase in the referendum will support “things that the community cares about,” Will said, including stabilized class sizes and keeping classrooms and students up-to-date with technology.
Increasing the operating levy will give the district necessary funds they do not expect to see otherwise.
“Our state is in a financial crisis ... the budget negotiation is really tough,” Scarbrough said. “We don’t expect significant increases in state aid over the next several years ... we need to reduce this deficit.”
In the midst of this deficit, the Minnesota government shutdown is not helping. Although state payments to the school will continue according to state law, Scarbrough explained, there will be a 40 percent delay in funding. This means that districts across the state will receive 60 percent of their funding during the school year, but the remaining 40 percent will be withheld until the next year, forcing the districts to borrow money.
Overall, the results of the Springsted, Inc. survey have the board optimistic.
“I think this whole process confirms ... what I’ve thought of Cloquet as a community, that it is a solid Midwestern town with people who want to help,” Scarbrough said. “We’re thankful for it.”
In other board news, the Cloquet Schools marketing brochure has been updated for the first time in eight years, according to board secretary Bonnie Monfeldt. Also, to further advertise the Cloquet School District, ads will soon begin to play on WKLK’s radio station.
Finally, the Cloquet Educational Foundation Charity Golf Tournament will take place Aug. 8 at the Cloquet Country Club. The cost is $60 per person and all of the proceeds go to the Educational Foundation to fund educational activities for Cloquet students.
The next regular board meeting has been rescheduled and will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9, at Garfield School.