Cloquet High School economics teacher and coach Tim Prosen has been hired as the new assistant principal, following Steve Battaglia's hire as principal to replace Warren Peterson, who will retire at the end of the month.

Peterson told Cloquet School Board members that the transition is going smoothly with former Assistant Principal Battaglia, and that Prosen is a good hire, although challenging to replace because he also teaches College in the Schools economics.

Prosen has been a teacher for 17 years - 14 of those with Cloquet Public Schools.

He said it was a difficult decision to apply for the job, but it seemed like the right fit at the right time.

"I really enjoy teaching in Cloquet," said Prosen, who earned his administration degree 10 years ago. "But I saw a good opportunity and I never want to leave this building. I feel strongly about the office staff, Steve Battaglia, the counselors. I also know the teachers are fabulous and I know I have their support."

Prosen will still coach middle school football, varsity track and will likely be involved in the Econ and Personal Finance teams. For those, he is waiting to see who is hired to replace him as a teacher.

"I won't let those teams go away," he said about the two highly successful academic teams that have a growing reputation in the state.

Prosen and his wife, Sara, have three boys: Cale, Emmet and Blake.

"I'm excited to keep being part of Cloquet," Prosen said. "I really feel fortunate to be here."

Science lab bid higher than budgeted

Board members also approved a bid for the complete renovation of a Cloquet High School science lab that came in significantly higher than originally budgeted.

The original estimate for the lab project was $200,000, but after the addition of a fume hood - a ventilation device designed to limit exposure to hazardous or toxic fumes, vapors or dusts - and additional mechanical, electrical and piping requirements, the lowest bid package came in at $315,985.

Project manager Greg Schendel, of Kraus Anderson, explained that the piping in the floor needs to be replaced with acid-proof piping. He also said contractors will likely run into asbestos during the work, which would be an another added cost.

Money to remediate the asbestos could come from the district's existing health and safety dollars; funds for the lab renovation are coming from referendum dollars approved for the construction of the new middle school and other school projects that came in under budget.

Schendel said the fume hood addition isn't required by code, but teachers stressed it's important for teaching. He noted that the new middle school science labs include a fume hood.

Superintendent Ken Scarbrough said Schendel is working with architects and contractors to find other ways to trim costs on the project.

Coach and adviser hiring policy

Also Monday, school board members adopted new hiring procedures for athletic and drama coaches and advisers following the third reading of the policy.

The new policy requires that when a head coaching or adviser position is open, it will be posted on the school website for at least two weeks unless there is an emergency. Applicants must submit a letter of interest, resume and references.

The activities director will determine the interview process and make a hiring recommendation to the board.

The head coach or advisory will recommend assistant coach/adviser hires to the activities director, who would submit the recommendation to the board for final approval. All coaching/adviser positions may be terminated without cause after the season for the school year is completed.

In case of emergency, the activities director may make changes to assignments immediately, but they won't be permanent without board approval.

In other matters

• Cloquet Educational Foundation Executive Director Jeannie Kermeen reported that the foundation distributed a total of $69,408 grants during the 2017-18 school year, which helped make possible an array of activities, including a fifth-grade trip to Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center ($3,000), Math Masters ($2,000), new sound equipment for the theater department ($2,350), a kindness retreat for fourth-graders ($2,745) and many more field trips and activities with a total of 10,573 participants. Scarbrough noted that the endowment for CEF is more than $2 million. Interest from the endowments pays for the grants.

• Cloquet Middle School Principal Tom Brenner reported that CMS won a Striving Readers grant for $500,000-$600,000 from the Minnesota Department of Education. The grant will pay for two literacy coaches to work with teachers and other things like curriculum, books and a reading lab so CMS can become a "reading-intensive" school.