Educational Foundation keeps on giving

Over the past school year, the Cloquet Educational Foundation distributed $58,408 in grant funds for 44 different initiatives across the school district.

Cloquet School Board members are joined by Cloquet Educational Foundation board members Dick Brenner and Russ Smith (from left), as well as CEF Executive Director Lorna Mangan (far right) as they hold a giant check representing all the grant money given by CEF for school district activities over the past school year. Jana Peterson/

Over the past school year, the Cloquet Educational Foundation distributed $58,408 in grant funds for 44 different initiatives across the school district.

One of those grants paid for Lyz Jaakola, a localsinger, drummer, composer, teacher, presenter and Native American musical expert, to present to the students at Churchill and Washington elementary schools.

“Each grade level met with Lyz and learned about the importance of music in the Ojibwe culture,” explained teacher Regina Roemhildt, adding that Jaakola played flutes, shakers and drums as well as sang for the students. “Lyz taught the children a special song about water, reminding us of the importance of clean water and that we need to respect it.”

Other grants helped with things such as the Lego robotics program, the Power Lunch reading program, GeoBee, Link Crew, Knowledge Bowl, Do It Right Club, Inventor’s Congress, science fair research projects, graphing calculators for students in need, Destination Imagination, after school programming for at-risk kids and more.

“A lot of these things, as you know, wouldn’t happen without the Foundation’s support - so I’m happy we have this wonderful cooperation,” CEF Director Lorna Mangan told Cloquet School Board members at Monday’s board meeting. She also talked about the “dedicated and generous” CEF board members who help keep CEF going strong, and this year’s Blue Jean Ball, which raised $59,000 for the foundation, its best year ever.


For her part, Mangan is the only executive director the foundation has ever had, noted board member Russ Smith, talking about how he and Dick Brenner hired her in 1986.

“We hired Lorna, none of us had ever done this before, and the reason for [the foundation’s growth] is this woman,” he said. “She is very skilled. I want you to know how much I appreciate what she did. It’s been spectacular.

“You are going to be missed,” he said, turning to Mangan, referring to her planned retirement in October.

Also Monday, Cloquet School Board members voted to not renew the teaching contracts for three untenured teachers and a guidance counselor in the school district.

Superintendent Ken Scarbrough said the district is ending its relationship with the four staff members because administrators felt it “wasn’t a good fit,” not because of any particular issues.

One of the contracts that wasn’t renewed, however, was the contract for the art teacher at Cloquet Area Alternative Education Program, who was placed on paid leave months ago for an alleged incident with a student.

When asked, Scarbrough said the investigation is complete now and no disciplinary action was taken by the school district, so the personnel files remain closed and confidential. He did say the teacher will remain on paid leave through the end of the school year.

“The job was terminated as a non-tenured teacher, not for any disciplinary reason,” he said.


In other matters Monday, the board:

  • Approved a 2 percent cost of living pay increase for Cloquet Community Education staff, plus a minimum wage increase for summer workers there;

  • Extensively discussed the planned work projects/workload of district custodial staff over the summer months. Board member Hawk Huard, a former custodian in the district, was especially critical of the lack of maintenance jobs noted in the staff report.

  • Approved a contract with AFSCME dietary employees, giving them a raise of 40 cents per hour the first year and 45 cents the second year, among other things.

  • Heard that business manager Candace Nelis - who was new to the district this school year - successfully completed the Minnesota Association of School Business Officials voluntary certification program. Board members also give Nelis permission to begin designating funds for next year’s budget.

No audience members addressed the board, although Cloquet High School student representative Anja Maijala did show the room a “no texting and driving” video created by the CHS student council this year.


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