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CLOQUET SCHOOL BOARD: Superintendent search narrowed to 3 candidates

The search for a replacement for Cloquet Superintendent Ken Scarbrough, who plans to retire after the school year, is nearly finished.

It's down to three final candidates, who will be interviewed Tuesday, Jan. 16:

• Michael Cary, director of curriculum and instruction for Duluth Public Schools (student population 8,200);

• Brian Corlett, superintendent of Central Public Schools, Norwood Young America, Minn. (student population 1,000); and

• Jeremy Olson, Underwood and Henning School Districts, Minn. (student population 945)

Including all the schools in the district, Cloquet most recent student enrollment count was 2,557 students, about 100 more than this time last year, Scarbrough reported during the Cloquet School Board meeting Monday, Jan. 8.

Eighteen candidates applied for the position, board member Dave Battaglia said Monday. Consultant Bruce Miles has worked with a district committee to narrow down the candidates and arrange for interviews at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16.

Three groups of people — school board members, an administrative team and a group of 18-20 community members and business owners — will take turns interviewing the three candidates separately.

After receiving reports from the other two groups, the board members will then rank the three candidates. If there is not a clear choice, they may invite the finalists back for additional interviews Tuesday, Jan. 23. The interviews are open to the public, although residents not serving on an interview committee will not be allowed to speak during the meetings.

Lammi to chair board

Officers were elected and board pay was discussed during the organizational meeting Monday, the first meeting of the year.

Board members unanimously elected new officers, with only one person nominated by fellow board members for each position. The new board chairman is Ted Lammi; Dan Danielson will continue to serve as board clerk; and Nate Sandman is the new treasurer.

Board members voted to keep their own salaries the same — at $200 per month and $50 a meeting — with board member Duane Buytaert dissenting after suggesting that they increase amounts incrementally and avoid a larger increase down the road.

In response to a suggestion that the board consider an increase next year after more research, Buytaert noted that the Proctor School Board is conducting a study on school board pay. Board members chose to retain their current "adopted schools" and committee assignments, at least until summer.

CAAEP named 'School of the Year'

Also Monday, board members and staff gave Connie Hyde, principal at the Cloquet Area Alternative Education Program (CAAEP) a round of applause after hearing news that CAAEP has been selected to receive the 2018 Minnesota Associations of Alternative Programs (MAAP) School of the Year award. Hyde said the school was nominated by the principal of the alternative school in Hinckley, who is also the NE Regional director for MAAP, for the work the school has done to become a restorative practices school.

Lammi asked Hyde what she believes made CAAEP stand out.

"The fact that we're all restorative, getting away from punitive," Hyde said. "And dealing with healing the harm, and working with connectedness and interaction between students and staff. It takes away that hierarchical, 'I'm-the-principal-and-you'll-do-what-I-say,' to 'we're all right here, we're humans and we communicate.'

"The kids down in Hinckley didn't want our staff to leave," she added, explaining that a small group had gone down to teach them about restorative practices. "That's how much they just absorbed the circle process and what it was all about. It was highly effective for their school, just as it's been highly effective for ours as well."

A group from the school will attend the MAAP conference Feb. 8, and student ambassadors are working to make a 60-minute movie about CAAEP and restorative practices, with help from a former Cloquet grad with a degree in filmmaking and other district staff, Hyde said.

In other matters

• "As of Dec. 27, we no longer own the middle school," Scarbrough announced during the superintendent's report, referring to the old middle school, which was sold to Roer's Investments to be renovated into affordable apartments. The money that had been set aside in case the district had to pay to demolish the historic building can now be used for other building projects and repairs in the district.

• The board unanimously adopted the district's World's Best Workforce Plan for 2017-18, a state-required long-term strategic plan to support and improve teaching and learning. The nearly 100-page report, which is packed with information about district programs and goals, is available on the school website under the curriculum tab. A new initiative in the WBW plan is to reduce absenteeism across the district. Scarbrough said the state will determine a student "habitually truant" if they miss 10 percent of days. More importantly, missing school affects academic performance and student development, he noted.

• Community Education Director Ruth Reeves said they held their first Family Fun Sunday at the new middle school. For a small fee, families can go to the middle school on Sundays at noon and choose from swimming in the new pool or playing in one of the three gyms through March. A family pass is $70 or cost is $3.50 per person per Sunday.

• Reeves also noted that there will be a Tech and Coffee opportunity from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 13, at the Community Ed offices in the new middle school thanks to the Age to Age group. Three qualified high school students will be there to help people "figure out their devices," be it a smartphone, tablet or other gadget.