An influx of students at Cloquet High School is likely to bring changes to the building in the near future, including the relocation of the Li’l Lumberjacks child care program and the hiring of additional staff.

According to Superintendent Michael Cary, a cohort of high-population middle school classes will begin entering the high school this fall, requiring the district to make some adjustments.

Reports show there are 836 students enrolled at Cloquet Middle School, with 746 at the high school.

“We’re seeing the incoming freshman classes are much larger than the outgoing senior classes,” Cary said.

He said students from Carlton High School may also be coming to Cloquet through a potential tuition agreement between the districts in the near future, possibly adding more students.

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Math teacher Kevin Brenner teaches college trigonometry students attending class both in person and virtually Jan. 28, 2021, at Cloquet High School. With rising student populations, Cloquet is looking to hire more teachers for the fall. (Tyler Schank / News Tribune)
Math teacher Kevin Brenner teaches college trigonometry students attending class both in person and virtually Jan. 28, 2021, at Cloquet High School. With rising student populations, Cloquet is looking to hire more teachers for the fall. (Tyler Schank / News Tribune)

Regardless of conversations with Carlton, Cary emphasized that more space is needed in the building to accommodate the rising enrollment.

Because of this, district officials have been communicating with Community Education Director Erin Bates about the relocation of the Li’l Lumberjacks program, which is housed in the high school.

Cary said the program is being asked to begin the process of finding a new home outside the school building, with a relocation target date of fall 2022.

Bates said she is hoping to use the move as an opportunity to adjust all child care programs coordinated through the community education program in order to efficiently serve the community.

There are currently multiple programs within Cloquet Community Education that serve children ages 0-5. Bates explained that she wants to eliminate any competition among the programs and focus more heavily on the big picture.

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While no definite plans have been determined, Cary emphasized there is no intention to reduce the Little Lumberjacks program — only to move it to a space outside the school.

“Li’l Lumberjacks is a great program,” he said “I think we want to try to keep that program going.”

To accommodate the larger incoming classes, the district is also looking to hire more staff.

Cloquet High School. (Jamie Lund / 2019 file / Pine Journal)
Cloquet High School. (Jamie Lund / 2019 file / Pine Journal)

The School Board on Monday, April 12, approved the posting of multiple jobs, including two additional high school teaching positions.

Due to budgetary constraints, the district was forced to reduce staffing positions in the past. Now, Cary said they are confident they can increase staffing while also maintaining a healthy budget.

“We’re confident that we can absorb that increase in staffing and still be in a very solid budget position,” he said.

According to Cary, the district is also looking to hire more staff for the middle school to help meet social, emotional and behavioral needs of students during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.