OXFORD– A topic that enflamed passions on both sides of the issue, and led to some of the most spirited discussions seen at a CCA school board meeting in recent years has been laid to rest.
The Clear Creek Amana School District Board of Directors met Wednesday, Sept. 19, in Oxford and revisited a proposed change to the district’s Open Night policy. Currently, the policy forbids school-related activities on Wednesday night. A revised policy would have put a moratorium on Sunday evening events as well, such as athletic practice.
The board held the first reading of the revised policy in August, which led to a lengthy discussion, including the results of a pair of unscientific parent and student surveys. The surveys showed more parents opposed to Sunday practices than those in favor. The policy passed on a 4-3 vote in August, and a second vote was in order this month.
More than a dozen people showed up for the second reading, with four people addressing the board during the Community/Public Forum to voice opposition to the change. Jim Seelman asked if the change would affect youth football and sympathized with the board, to a point.
“I understand what you’re trying to do,” Seelman said, “I just ask that you look at it in a different perspective. Not every kid has a family doing things on Sunday.” For some kids, Seelman said, “(Sunday football is) the only time when they know they’re safe and they know what’s expected of them.” He noted there is no mandatory practice for youth football. If a coach is willing to spend time with the kids, he pleaded, “don’t hinder what they are trying to do. Let them do it.”
Trip Strub, parent of a recent CCA graduate, said he was perplexed when he watched the August meeting. Strub added he was offended that the board had “taken it upon themselves to determine when family time should be,” calling the action disingenuous. Strub also took issue with the amount of time taken during the August meeting discussing this, especially when he felt they should have been addressing other issues such as the district dropout rate and/or teens drinking at football games. He also questioned the validity of the surveys, calling them poorly conceived and lacking integrity. Strub suggested a committee made up of stakeholders examine the Open Night policy, including student athletes, parents, coaches, Athletic Director Kurt Ronnfeldt and a medical doctor. During the August meeting, board member Aimee Pitlick cited comments from medical professionals who were opposed to a seven-day-per-week regimen for student athletes, but Strub said the physicians’ comments were incidental. Strub also asked the second reading be tabled pending further study.
Mike Stopko was also not happy with what he saw from August, saying he was appalled, and that the decision to practice on Sunday should be at the discretion of the coaches. Stopko also took issue with the surveys. “They are a small slice of the overall population of the district,” Stopko said.
The policy was on the agenda, coupled with an unrelated policy for approval of second readings. Board president Eileen Schmidt asked to have the policies voted on separately, and the board approved her motion.
“We’ve had a lot of discussion on this,” Schmidt said before reading the revised policy again. She concluded, “If you want this one (revised version), vote ‘yes.’ If you want the current policy (limiting Wednesdays only), vote ‘no.’” A roll call vote returned a 5-2 tally against revising the policy, with Pitlick and Steve Swenka voting yes, while Schmidt, Bob Broghammer, Terry Davis, Rick Hergert and Mick Kahler voting no.
With the 5-2 vote against, the current policy stands. However, a board member can bring up the proposed revision at a later date for reconsideration.