Hermantown cheerleading eliminated in cost-cutting decision

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The Hermantown Hawks cheerleaders have been dropped.

Not literally – it was a figurative fall for the squad, whose program was eliminated by the Hermantown School Board last week as a small part of deep budget cuts.

Now the cheerleading program and its supporters are trying to figure out why their sport was let go – and how they can change it.

A Facebook group titled "Help SAVE Hermantown Cheerleading" was quickly created, and as of Tuesday morning had 366 likes.

Post by Help SAVE Hermantown Cheerleading.

The page highlights an upcoming school board meeting (set for Monday, April 28) for people who are interested in voicing their displeasure with the decision.

Eliminating the program, the Duluth News Tribune reports, saves Hermantown schools $2,500. Superintendent Brad Johnson told the paper the request to cut cheer came from high school Athletic Director Beth Clark, who according to Johnson said the 15-member team requires too much supervision.

The school district is facing a $500,000 budget shortfall. This year's $250,000 cut (which includes ditching the purchase of a new bus, eliminating a first- and second-grade section, and increasing activity fees by $10) bridged half the gap; another round of $250,000 in cuts will complete it, the News Tribune reports.

One board member tells the News Tribune the cheer decision could be reversed, and suggested supporters come to the April 28 meeting.

Cheerleading captain Taylor Grimsbo says the team is working on finding sponsorship and private funding, the News Tribune reports. But the school board still has to reinstate the completely eliminated program.

The Atlantic last fall took an overall look at sports in American high schools in the wake of widespread budget issues. The publication found even "modest cuts" to athletics programs are seen as "tragic" decisions; rather than downsize the programs, the Atlantic says, many schools simply shifted the financial burden on to parents.

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