School board: Keep Sundays activity free

 

A controversial proposal by the Montana High School Association prompted a spirited discussion at Tuesday’s monthly meeting of the Unified Board of Trustees.

The proposal, which would delete the prohibition of school activities and sporting events on Sunday, will be voted on at the MHSA’s Annual Meeting on January 20 in Great Falls. Superintendent Keith Campbell said that while the argument can easily be made for either side of the issue, the Miles City Unified School District will vote to keep Sunday sacred and activity free.

“Our board just felt that Sunday should be a day that’s set aside for families, and would like to keep it that way,” Campbell said. 

The issue was brought to the attention of the MHSA board after the Oregon High School Association voted to allow Sunday activities, according to Campbell. The Seventh-Day Adventists in Oregon successfully sued the OHSA because activities were allowed on Saturdays, a religious day in that denomination, and not Sundays.

“The MHSA’s thought process in this proposal is to try to avoid a similar lawsuit,” Campbell said. “I think it’s a bad deal, and our board feels the same way. We have very few days where kids are home anyway, so if we can protect one day of the week, whether it’s a religious day or not, we need to do that. I disagree that the policy should be changed just because of the potential threat of a lawsuit.”

That said, a vote to maintain the current policy may not be that simple. Campbell said when a proposal is made directly by the MHSA board, it typically will be approved.

“When proposals come directly from the MHSA Executive Board, they pass, more often than not,” he said. “But I don’t think this one will. It’s controversial. I have a strong feeling it just won’t pass. Sunday is a day where you can plan family dinners and outings without having to adhere to the school schedule.”

Should the proposal pass, the Unified Board of Trustees could still pass a rule saying in Miles City, the school district will not schedule events on Sunday. The drawback to such a rule, however, is the district would eventually feel the pressure from other school districts who do choose to schedule events on Sunday.

“If a town like Sidney decides to schedule a Saturday-Sunday wrestling tournament, for example, we’d have to be involved if we want our kids to participate,” Campbell said. “It would put pressure on us to want to conform. The local-control issue wouldn’t work very well in that instance.”

Also on the agenda of Tuesday’s meeting was the awarding of a $20,000 Quality Schools Planning Grant to the Miles City Unified School District. Campbell said the grant will be used to create a district maintenance plan.

“The plan will be used to identify and prioritize building needs throughout the district,” he explained. “From roofing, to sidewalks, to playgrounds, just finding where we really need to invest money at in the future. We’ll make a five- or 10-year plan of what needs to get done in the buildings and what those costs will be.”

A new hire ratified in the Elementary District is Brooke Kennedy, kindergarten aide at Jefferson Elementary.

In transfers within the district, Carol French transferred from Lincoln Elementary to Jefferson Elementary.