Cloquet School Board member resigns postCloquet School Board members accepted the resignation of long-time board member Sandra Crowley at their Monday night meeting.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Cloquet School Board members accepted the resignation of long-time board member Sandra Crowley at their Monday night meeting. Crowley submitted a brief letter to Superintendent Ken Scarbrough on March 20, thanking him for helping her “keep knowledgeable and up-to-date on school issues” and stating her resignation was effective immediately.
Crowley has served on the board since June 1, 2006. She had one and a half years remaining on her current term.
Though Crowley was not present at Monday’s meeting, she commented in an interview the following day, “It was just time to move on. I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve spent there.”
At Monday’s meeting, Board Chair Gary Huard commented, “We want to express our sincere appreciation and thanks for the service [Crowley] provided to the school district.”
Scarbrough informed board members they could go about filling Crowley’s unexpired term either by advertising for candidates or selecting an alternative method of their own choosing such as an outright appointment.
Board member Jim Crowley suggested a notice of the vacancy be published in order to “see what kind of action we can get.”
The board agreed to advertise the vacancy for the next two weeks in the Pine Journal. Applications will be due by Wednesday, April 10, and the board will review them at their April 15 meeting. Depending on the number of candidates, interviews may be conducted at that time as well, with an eye toward making the final appointment by April 22.
In other business, the board discussed district budget projections for the 2013-2014 school year as reviewed during a working session last week. Scarbrough pointed out that the General Fund was down by $250,000 last year, and the district is anticipating a $1.3 million deficit for the upcoming year. He said that amount is subject to change as the state legislative picture becomes clearer, current expenditures can more accurately be calculated and enrollment and class sizes are finalized. Other factors that could affect that amount include a drop in interest revenue of approximately $250,000 a year and changes in the General Fund subsidy for special education.
“We agreed we want to make sure the Fund Balance doesn’t go down any further, so we need to watch our spending,” summarized Scarbrough. “But we also don’t want to make a lot of cuts — many class sizes are already over 30 and we really don’t want to go there at this time.”
Building principals reported on classroom enrollment projections for the 2013-2014 school year and the anticipated impact on staffing.
Churchill Elementary Principal David Wangen prefaced his report by thanking the board “for allowing us to keep really good class sizes.” He added that the overall student census in the school remains really strong, adding he will have a better idea of the number of incoming students after next week’s Kindergarten Roundup. He does anticipate, however, that there will be one less section of first grade in the fall because the current four sections will be moving up. That will likely necessitate the need for an additional section of second grade. Wangen said since there are only three sections of third-graders moving up, the fourth-grade class will be reduced by one section in the fall. He added the fifth-grade configuration should remain the same as it is currently.
Washington Elementary Principal Connie Hyde said the only area she anticipates there will be change is in the second-grade class, which she said will likely need to be increased to five sections based on incoming enrollment.
Overall, the changes at the elementary level are expected to result in a plus-one impact on FTEs. Both Wangen and Hyde said they don’t expect to have to move any students between schools at this time, though that will depend on kindergarten enrollment later this spring.
Middle School Principal Tom Brenner said he expects to add one section to the sixth-grade class in the fall, which he said will likely necessitate slight increases in the physical education, health and art, music and computer topics sections.
At the high school level, Principal Warren Peterson reported some 157 students are expected to graduate this spring, but projections show there will be close to 200 incoming students in the fall. Based on those projections, he anticipates the necessity of adding .2 FTE in English, .3 FTE in social studies and .4 FTE in math, which he said would keep class sizes in the high 20s and low 30s. He said the lowest class sizes are currently in the vocational/technical classes, which he said are expected to rise as students continue to enroll.
Overall, these changes could result in up to 4.3 FTEs for the district in the coming school year. Board member Duane Buytaert commented that, with the mandate to keep expenses to a minimum, this could represent a significant dollar amount. Scarbrough said he would work on the issue and get back to the board before any final staffing decisions are made.
The board accepted the retirement of several long-term district employees, including Leslie Pettit, Linda Hatinen, Karen Rosen, Pam Erickson, Sharon Sedor and Christine Carlson.
“Some really high quality people are retiring,” commented Scarbrough.
Finally, board members unanimously approved renewal of the contract with Lake Superior College College-in-the-Schools program for 2014. Scarbrough had high praise for the program, saying that 18 college-level credits are offered to CHS students.
“It costs a total of $7,500 to keep our students here,” said Scarbrough. “Some districts are losing 150-200 kids per year through the post-secondary enrollment option, but [through this program] we are managing to keep kids here. It’s a great ba