The Alliance School Board took up a number of requests on at their meeting on Jan. 21, discussing and voting on several proposed waivers.
The first request that came before the board was to waive the fee for Movida to use the high school facilities for an event hosting a discussion of an international missionary’s experience abroad.
“Movida is an international missionary outfit,” event organizer Troy Sorenson told the school board. “Scott Langemeier lives in Switzerland, and he helps head the missionary school over there. There’s been a lot of people from our community that support him. Last year, we raised about $45,000 to buy a tractor for him, just to help out with campus stuff.
“He’s going to be back in April, and we just wanted to do something to celebrate how God provided for that, and just to bring the community together. It would be open to the public,” Sorenson said.
Superintendent Troy Unzicker said he had discussed the matter with legal counsel, and relayed the advice that the district’s counsel believes there could be an issue with the separation of church and state. However, he noted that they could possibly approve it based on the description on Movida’s website, detailing their dedication to youth and helping young people grow.
“The one way we would be able to approve this is, on their website it talks about a focus on youth. It would be like the tie-ins you’ve done before. If there’s some educational value and a value to our youth, that would be a way to form a partnership and eliminate the religious entanglements,” Unzicker said.
Board Member Shana Brown emphasized that she likes the idea of the event, but believes it conflicts with policy.
“I don’t mind them being in the building,” said Brown. “I just don’t think it falls under that policy to allow that item to offset the cost. As much as I like the idea, I just don’t think it fits policy.”
Sorenson explained that the event could be geared toward youth, but that it is ultimately, “just a night of worship and celebration.”
Unzicker estimated the rental fee to be about $300. Council member Edison Red Nest III asked Sorenson to tell the board more about Movida. He then offered to pay for the fee himself, noting the value of the event to the community.
“We as a board might not be able to do that for you,” said Red Nest, “but I would. As a board member, I’ll pick up that $300 fee for you guys. If that’s the route we have to go, and that’s the route that you’re okay with, then that’s the route that I’m okay with.”
The board voted to deny the waiver request for the event, which is set to take place in April.
The next item on the agenda the board discussed was the Sunday usage waiver for the 4-H air rifle and BB gun shoot, which would take place over the course of a Saturday and a Sunday (the event has been at the Burkholder Building in the past though no location was cited during the discussion.)
Josh Carr, one of the organizers of the event, described the event as one of the largest in the region, with youth traveling from all across the Panhandle to take part in the shoot. He emphasized that if they are unable to have access to the facility at 7 a.m. on the Sunday the event is planned for they will not be able to make it work.
Brown said last year the board told the group that it was the last time they would be able to access the building before noon.
“Last year we gave a big speech about how we’re never doing it again, and every year we cave,” Brown said.
Carr said he hoped to start the event prior to noon so it would wrap up before dark, making for safer driving conditions for families from out of town.
The Board voted to approve the waiver, with Board members Tim Kollars and Karen Trussell voting against it, citing policy.
“I think you have a great program, but every time we make a waiver on policy, it ends up biting us,” Kollars said.
Coming before the board with a similar request was Kevin Horn, who asked for Sunday access to the school facilities (specifically the AHS Performing Arts Center) prior to 7 a.m. for the Stars of Tomorrow event.
Brown asked Horn if the event could be moved to a Saturday, but Horn responded that because of volunteer schedules, Sunday would be the only day the event could work. He explained that the organization was requesting access to the building before noon in order to have the event draw to a close before dark.
“We’ll make it work one way or another,” Horn said.
Board members moved to approve the waiver, but the vote was split, with board members Tim Richey, Kollars and Trussell voting against the motion, and board members Amanda Mockerman, Red Nest and Brown voting in favor of it. The motion failed, and the waiver was not approved.
In the final waiver request of the evening, Tearza Mashburn, director of the county TeamMates chapter, came before the board with a revised plan for mentors and their mentees to visit Chadron State College. At a prior meeting, the organization requested a waiver of the fee to use an APS bus to transport students and their mentors to Chadron to see a basketball game at CSC; however, the waiver was denied, citing a lack of educational value.
At the Jan. 21 meeting, Mashburn told the board of a revised plan to visit exhibits at the college and to take a tour of the campus to give students a taste of college life.
Mashburn said she worked with CSC to develop scavenger hunts at the exhibit, which details Mari Sandoz’s life and her contributions to Nebraska’s history as one of the state’s authors. Another exhibit she plans to visit features work from pioneer photographers Ray and Faye Graves. She believes the scavenger hunt would facilitate learning and constitute educational value.
The board approved the waiver, with Trussell abstaining from the vote.