Pressure is mounting for the Storm Lake School District to change its "family night" from Thursday to Wednesday, which would likely impact more than just school activities.
Superintendent Bill Kruse said scheduling may become an issue as conferences next to the Lakes Conference begin shifting their activity-free nights from Thursday to Wednesday. Those conferences, in turn, are pressed by neighboring conferences in South Dakota, Nebraska and from Iowa conferences to the east that already have moved their activity-free nights to Wednesday.
Thursday has been "church night" for years in Storm Lake and local merchants have kept their stores open later on Thursdays as well, while schools have kept calendars free to allow family time.
However, the city's religious and business leaders express a willingness to work with the school district.
Because of the differences between conferences, Kruse said only Monday, Tuesday and Friday evenings are available to schedule events. As more conferences change, the Lakes Conference will feel increased pressure to do the same, he told school board members at this week's meeting.
Currently, the Siouxland and War Eagle conferences are seriously considering changing their family nights from Thursday to Wednesday.
While is has not been a problem yet, Kruse said scheduling conflicts may arise in the next several years as more and more conferences switch.
Kruse has informed both the Storm Lake Chamber and Area Development Corporation and the Storm Lake Ministerial Association about the need for a possible change. Both groups have expressed an interest in working with the school district.
Pastor Ken Bell, United Methodist Church and president of the Storm Lake Ministerial Association, said initial reaction from the ministerial association has been supportive.
"We are willing to be part of the answer, and if that means changing the night we can work with that," he said.
Bell said members of the group have seen some advantages with Wednesday services, which would coincide with some religious events like Ash Wednesday.
Since any change by the school district would not take effect until the 2003-2004, Bell said churches should have enough time to prepare for a switch.
Chris Nolte, CEO of the Chamber and SLADC, said the issue of family night has been brought up to both the board of directors and to local retailers. "In both instances they had no qualms," Nolte said.
He stressed the need for the school district to work with the Ministerial Association on the matter.
"We'll certainly work with either to find an equitable solution," Nolte said. "We're supportive of finding a common ground."
In the Lakes Conference bylaws, it would take a majority vote of the school districts for a change. If the change is made, it would take effect in the 2003-2004 school year, Kruse said.
The conference has asked for a vote next month, Kruse said.
Since it only requires a majority, the Storm Lake School District may not have a choice, board member Dan Douglas pointed out at the school board meeting.
School Board President Mark Schultz asked the superintendent for more information on what the exact problem areas are in regards to scheduling.