Students in Cloquet who rely on winter busing when the temperatures dip can plan on the winter bus route again this year. The Cloquet School Board approved the additional route contract unanimously at the regular board meeting on Monday, Oct. 26.

There will be one small change, according to Superintendent Michael Cary, the bus will loop through the route twice. The first pass will pick up the elementary school students and the second later pass will serve secondary students. Two passes allow for the bus to maintain COVID-19 distancing.

"Looking at the schedule, and because it's a fairly small area, they felt they could do a swing through and do another loop in time to get the kids for the secondary campus," Cary said.

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The bus is contracted through Cloquet Transit for $302 per day, which Cary said is the typical amount for a day. The program will likely start running in December, depending on winter conditions. The winter route normally runs through March.

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Career and tech space renovation

No official decisions were made, but the school board also discussed budget constraints for a future renovation of the high school's career and tech space. Cary asked the board members if they were comfortable pursuing the $2 million project.

"We've had architects from ARI in Duluth doing work with high school staff to plan the renovation for the space," Cary said. "That said, I don't want them spending too much time aiming for the moon if our budget is only going to get us halfway there."

The renovation would change the layout of the area to create a common fab lab that wood shop, metal shop and art students could all use. It would also update the woodshop, metal lab and art rooms. Funding for the project would come from the district's operating capital revenue.

"We aren't planning to spend a dollar more than what we already bring into the district. We're not going to go out and ask for any taxpayer money for this project, we want it to be funded in-house," Cary said.

The district would pay back a 10- or 15-year bond at an estimated $250,000 to $175,000 rate per year. At this point, the district is working with architects to create a design that will later be presented to the board for approval.

The board members generally supported the $2 million budget and said they found the bond lengths appropriate.

Depending on timing, Cary said they'd like to have the project completed by the end of the summer and ready for use by the start of the 2021-22 school year.