Cloquet School Board pares budget by $452,050
Cloquet School Board members approved $452,050 in budget cuts on Monday evening at a special meeting. "This is a very serious meeting tonight," said Ken Scarbrough, Cloquet Schools superintendent. "These are very difficult decisions to make." Bef...
Cloquet School Board members approved $452,050 in budget cuts on Monday evening at a special meeting.
"This is a very serious meeting tonight," said Ken Scarbrough, Cloquet Schools superintendent. "These are very difficult decisions to make."
Before approving the cuts, board members heard comments from community members who mostly voiced support for saving the orchestra program.
Two orchestra students, Bethany Rosemore and Maddy Michon, read statements to the board about the importance of orchestra in their lives.
"Orchestra is very important to us," Rosemore said. "Our teacher is so much fun and makes it fun to learn." Both girls said one of the reasons they love it is that it is challenging.
"If orchestra is cut many of us will go into study halls and what challenge is that?" Rosemore said.
Board members told the girls they appreciated their comments.
"I appreciate your passion for music," said Shelly Pritchett, board clerk.
Sandy Crowley, board member, agreed.
"I feel very badly that this is a cut we have to look at," she said.
She said she hoped students would be able to transfer their music skills to the band program.
High school student and orchestra section leader Ben Holtz spoke to the rising interest in orchestra.
"Sixth to 12th grade orchestra participation is up 22 percent in recent years," he said.
Another former student and orchestra participant, Jera Whittle spoke about her career in music that resulted from the Cloquet program.
"I wouldn't be who I am today if not for the Cloquet Orchestra program," she said.
Whittle teaches music in the Duluth school district, performs in a string quartet and teaches private music lessons as well.
"She's one of our great success stories," Sandy Crowley said.
Karen Williams spoke as a parent whose daugther attends Cloquet High School through open enrollment, because of the orchestra program.
"It's a special and amazing opportunity these kids have at Cloquet," she said. "I am very upset as my daughter is and it's unfair to tell her she has to put down an instrument she has played for eight years and pick up a camera or another instrument instead."
Before cuts were made, Scarbrough reiterated the possibility of bringing some positions and programs back depending on legislative funding.
"We're acutely aware of the human-ness of what we're doing," he said.
"We're hoping upon hope that the legislature will fund the programs they are mandating."
By majority vote, the board approved cutting the orchestra teacher, two full-time and one part-time social workers and two half-time second-grade teachers.
Last week, board members approved cuts including a reduction in secretarial labor, cutting five days of work by an "on-the-job coordinator," who organizes job sites during the summer months, and cutting a Washington kindergarten
paraprofessional, as well as cutting some of the athletic supplies budget and part of the budget allocated for paper.
Six paraprofessionals will also lose their jobs and half of a bus route and part of the technology budget were eliminated.
Also at the meeting, board members reduced one family and consumer sciences teacher at the high school to accommodate increased requirements in math and science.