Cheerleaders plead their case to Cloquet School BoardCloquet school board members had a few visitors during Monday’s meeting in light of budget cuts made earlier this month.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Cloquet school board members had a few visitors during Monday’s meeting in light of budget cuts made earlier this month.
Six cheerleaders and their coach, Jessica Makowski, spoke before the board to ask that they reconsider their decision to cut cheerleading from next year’s budget. The cheerleading team and other student activities such as orchestra were part of more than 20 budget cuts totaling around $546,000. Coach Makowski was first to address the board.
“Without a program like this a lot of girls do fall through the cracks,” Makowski said. “Cheerleading was the perfect fit for a person like me, for someone who didn’t excel in athletics or academics.”
The six cheerleaders then took turns expressing how they felt about the budget cut. Several of the cheerleaders said many students, not just cheerleaders, were upset about the decision.
“I can’t imagine going to a home Friday night football game without hearing the cheers from the cheerleaders,” Carley Carey said.
Carey added that cheerleading was more about just standing at the sidelines and pepping up a crowd, but that cheerleaders also make a positive impact in school.
“Cutting cheerleading is a big mistake,” Carey said. “There will be no school spirit without cheerleaders spreading it through the halls.”
Others spoke of the positive impact that cheerleading has made in their lives.
“It’s given me the physical ability to be athletic, but it’s also brought me really close to a lot of the girls,” cheerleader Lauren Palmer said. “A lot of mental and physical benefits have come from this.”
The team had several suggestions for the board about how to keep cheerleading at Cloquet High School. The team members said they would be willing to pay a higher activity fee to pay for the coach’s wage, as well as hold fundraisers for travel costs and new
“The cheerleaders are willing to do what it takes,” Makowski said.
While no action was taken during the meeting regarding cheerleading, Superintendent Ken Scarbrough said he appreciated hearing from the team.
“It’s one thing to come and say ‘please don’t cut our program’ but it’s another to come up with suggestions,” Scarbrough said. “The fact that you talked about putting a smile on the faces in school indicates the part of cheerleading that we often don’t think about.”
In other budget-related business, during the working session Scarbrough discussed relooking at closing the middle school swimming pool for part of the year.
Shutting down the pool was part of the more than half-million-dollar budget cuts that board members approved during the last school board meeting. Their hopes were that by shutting the pool down for part of the year, the district would save about $15,000. But after further discussions between the principals and Scarbrough, school officials realized draining the pool and having to refill might take more money than originally thought.