The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 2, 2014

Cleveland eyes major school addition

Strong band program may lead to project including performing arts center

“Mr. Hermanson” is the first answer students give when asked why so many kids at Cleveland Public School take band.

More than 85 percent of sixth- through 12th-graders are in band, and that includes the entire student bodies of sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

“He really cares about us,” said senior Grant Germscheid, who has been in the program since sixth grade.

Bailey Ellickson, also a senior, was on the fence years ago about whether she wanted to take part. Hermanson helped change her mind.

“He said, 'Hey, just come down and try it once,' and then I fell in love,” said Ellickson, whose been in band since seventh grade.

Even though Germscheid and Ellickson won't be able to reap the benefits, they're both excited about the prospect of a big addition onto Cleveland school that would include a performing arts theater and music practice space. The bond project, which Supt. Brian Phillips hopes will go to voters in 2015, would mean great things for the band program, said Erik Hermanson.

“For the health of the school as a whole, I think it's so huge,” he said. “It gives us something to offer the community around us.”

Initial building plans

In 2009 the district had plans and renderings and was ready to begin holding public meetings about the prospect of building an addition onto the school that would have cost $15 million to $19 million. The addition would have included a performing arts theater, a new gymnasium, classroom space, a commons area and music practice space, among other things.

“But in '09 the economy changed on us all of a sudden,” Phillips said. “We thought, 'Boy, the timing is horrible to throw this at our community and to raise taxes,' so we shelved it, and we said we'd wait for a better time.”

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