ISD 166 sets hours for after-school activities

The ISD 166 school board took action on November 7, 2013 on the issue of whether to impose an end time to after-school activities on Wednesday nights, but they did not do so unanimously.  Some students have church activities on Wednesdays and have reportedly been penalized by not being able to play in games because they have left practice early on those days.  Superintendent Schwarz said students sometimes need extra time during the middle of the week to catch up on sleep or to be with their families as well.

At the September 19 school board meeting, Superintendent Schwarz said both the religious community and families have told coaches they should be able to remove a student from practice without penalty.  School board member Sissy Lunde said she talked to one of the coaches about it, and the coach said removing a student from practice once a week would affect how much that student would be allowed to participate in competitions. 

Schwarz said coaches have been told students should be allowed to leave early Wednesday for church without penalty.  She said coaches do not want athletes to leave early to get their hair cut, go to Duluth, or get out of a practice.  School board member Ed Bolstad said it is not acceptable for a coach to tell a kid or a family that there may be consequences if a kid leaves early on Wednesday.

“To me, athletics is the tail wagging the dog,” Superintendent Schwarz said.  “It’s a huge cultural thing.” 

At the November 7 meeting, Deb White and Jeanne Anderson said they did not think coaches should penalize students for missing practice to attend other activities their parents want them involved in.  Anderson said she did not want to formalize this into a policy, however.

Superintendent Schwarz said they have talked about developing a student and coach handbook that would clarify what activities should not affect how much playing time a student is given, such as medical and orthodontic appointments and family emergencies.  Sissy Lunde said she would like to see written guidelines that parents, students, and coaches could go by.

Kids need to develop skills, White said.  The purpose of competition is to win, and coaches should have discretion on their students’ playing time.  “It’s competition.  It’s real life,” she said.

“It’s a balance of life issue,” said Mary Sanders.

“It’s about family.  It’s about kids getting home,” Superintendent Schwarz said.

Alpine ski coach Charles Lamb requested an exclusion to early Wednesday ending times because the team doesn’t get onto the slopes until 4:30 on school days.  He said kids who had church on Wednesday evenings would not be penalized for leaving early.

By a split vote, the board passed a motion to impose an ending time for K-8 activities on Wednesdays.  Voting yes were Mary Sanders, Ed Bolstad, and Sissy Lunde.  Voting no were Jeanne Anderson and Deb White.

The board then discussed when the ending time should be.  By another split vote, the board passed a motion to end K-8 school activities by 5:45 on Wednesdays.  Voting yes were Mary Sanders, Ed Bolstad, and Sissy Lunde.  Voting no were Jeanne Anderson and Deb White.