Cloquet School Board: District ratifies teacher contract, plans future spending

The Cloquet School Board ratified a two-year contract agreement with Education Minnesota Cloquet at its Monday night meeting, capping a very smooth period of negotiations.

The Cloquet School Board ratified a two-year contract agreement with Education Minnesota Cloquet at its Monday night meeting, capping a very smooth period of negotiations.

The contract, which had already been ratified by teachers, calls for a 1.5/1.5 percent raise in pay over the two-year life of the contract, with modest increases made to 403b contributions by the district as well.

"The negotiations have gone very well," Superintendent Ken Scarbrough said. "We saw significant increases to health insurance this year and there were language changes made there, too."

The contract also adds two additional, and optional, High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) for teachers.

It also makes wording changes regarding sick leave pay, and now requires new teachers to give a day of their sick leave to the "sick leave bank," which teachers suffering from long-term illness can use before becoming eligible for long-term disability benefits, and for users of the bank to pay it back with a modified formula.


Teachers can accumulate unlimited sick time during their tenures, but are only entitled to a maximum of 125 days of remuneration of that leave upon separation from service.

The district also approved a tentative budget for the 2013-14 school year, allowing a potential $1.19 million deficit that would, if realized, reduce the district's unassigned fund balance from $4.6 million to $3.4 million, with total operating funds of $6.739 million.

The budget calls for revenues of $23.266 million and expenditures of $24.460 million, which includes all items acted on or added by the board during the last year.

"The addition of industrial tech into the operating capital budget accounts for $135,000 of the expenditure," Business Manager Kim Josephson said. "We also have to finish the wireless LAN network carried over from last year, which accounts for another $27,000."

Scarbrough noted that the district's capital balance has dropped by about half a million dollars since 2009.

In good budgetary news, Josephson also noted the district's Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) trust had gained more in investment balance than anticipated in the budget, where growth of $100,000 was planned.

Earlier in the meeting the board also agreed to the city of Cloquet's plan for tax abatement for SpecSys Incorporated, which is renovating the Royal Building at 1111 Cloquet Ave.

The abatement, which applies only to increased value of the property, is expected to amount to $4,518 over a 15-year period.


Board member Ted Lammi asked Cloquet Community Development Director Holly Butcher if there was any mechanism for regaining the abatement money if the company did not fulfill its obligations.

Butcher answered that the city generally writes "clawback" provisions into such agreements but one would have to be added for the district.

Scarbrough said that might be more trouble than it would be worth, since over a 15-year abatement the district's share would amount to just over $300 per year.

The board also voted to waive three readings to change its policy regarding protection and privacy of pupil records to allow the addition of photographs and videos at school-sponsored events to be included. Theoretically it would have been possible to violate policy by, for example, showing a picture or video of a Cloquet athlete playing for a school team.

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