Welcome to a new school year!
Superintendent, Dr. Michael Cary
While I can't speak for everyone, I found it a welcome change to see life shift back to "normal" over the course of this summer. There are certainly still lingering impacts of the pandemic, but a quick drive around town looks a lot more like life pre-pandemic. At Cloquet Public Schools, we are still waiting to see if there are any continued requirements for us as we transition into the new school year. That said, we're hoping that a walk through our buildings this fall looks a lot more like life pre-pandemic, just like that drive around town. As we consider a transition back to a more normal school year, it's also time to think about the goals that were put on pause as we all reacted to the demands the pandemic created.
The theme of this Pine Needle is doing your personal best. At Cloquet Public Schools, we're always looking at ways to improve our schools to better serve our students and community. Before the pandemic hit, we had completed a strategic planning process aimed at improving toward our personal best as an organization. While COVID may have slowed our progress a bit, we were still able to move forward with some pretty significant improvements that the public will begin to see in the coming year.
The improvement I find the most exciting is our work in career and technical education programs. Over the last two years, we were able to secure a large state grant which allowed us to purchase $250,000 worth of new equipment for students to learn the skills needed in modern manufacturing and product design. This new equipment will allow our students to design almost anything and fabricate the end product right in our schools. The new program options will also connect well with modern manufacturing and fabrication programs within regional higher education institutions, providing students with another pathway to high-paying, high-demand jobs.
Along with the equipment purchase, we were also able to make use of existing funds to renovate our career and technical education spaces to support our new manufacturing and design capabilities. These spaces will now also house our art program, as our art and technical education programs both have strong design components that are supported by our new equipment purchases through the grant. These new spaces are under construction currently and are targeted to be ready for use at the beginning of the new school year. This overhaul of our equipment and facility was accomplished with no increase to local taxpayers!
Speaking of facilities, part of our strategic plan is to protect the public's investment in our school buildings by having a strong facility maintenance plan that focuses on improving longevity. We completed a thorough review of our facilities, working with regional architects and engineers, to determine how to best spend our facility maintenance funds and maximize the life of our buildings. We understand the significant investment the public makes into school buildings and are serious about protecting and maximizing that investment.
We've made a number of other improvements over the past two years, but I'm running out of space in this article to cover them. Please know that your public schools are focused on giving the community our personal best and we greatly appreciate the community's strong support of our schools.