Havre High School’s Interim Principal Dennis Murphy is heading to Billings next week for the Montana High School Association annual meeting, where members will discuss changes to activity policies.
Murphy explained to the Board of Trustees five proposals the group will vote on, and what votes he recommends the Havre districts make.
He began by explaining that he has been to meetings with as many 67 proposals, “so I think we are getting to where we want to be. ”
The proposals this time around include:
• A proposal to create an “associate member” status that would allow private schools to engage in competition with schools in other states. The associate members would pay all member fees and have to submit schedules of those out-of-state games, but they wouldn’t “be assigned a district schedule and will be ineligible for instate postseason play. ”
Murphy’s thoughts: The rule isn’t ready yet. It is requested by a few schools now, being proposed by Manhattan Christian High School, but he worries that it opens up a much wider discussion about unaccredited schools that they are not prepared for. Murphy votes no.
• A proposal to allow non-member schools to compete against member schools. Bigfork High School proposed the change, and the rationale is that it would “be a benefit, especially in golf, as teams are looking for more meets and there need to be at least three teams involved for scores to be able to qualify for state tournaments. ”
Murphy’s thoughts: The change could allow abuses of academic eligibility, which Murphy wants to avoid. Murphy votes no.
• A proposal to allow eighth-grade students to participate in high school wrestling teams. Eighth-grade students are already allowed in volleyball, basketball and track relay teams. Choteau High School is proposing the change because of the large weight class disparity in smaller districts that can cause difficulty when arranging matches. The new rule would only allow up to three eighth-graders to join, only if there are not enough high school students on the team. The additions would have to be approved by the executive director of the MHSA.
Murphy’s thoughts: Murphy said he had heard about the possibility only explicitly apply to Class B and C schools, which he would not support because he doesn’t want fractured rules for different schools. He believes the rules should apply to everyone and then the bigger schools just wouldn’t use it. But overall he supports the move.
• A proposal to eliminate master basketball scheduling. This proposal from the MHSA executive director would eliminate the basketball scheduling committee that was established in 1985 to handle game scheduling across the state. After the change, all schools would be responsible for developing their own schedules. The rationale for the change is that scheduling has gotten “increasingly difficult” because of schools changing conferences or classifications and the new policy would just make things more flexible.
Murphy’s thoughts: Murphy said this is the biggest proposal being considered this year. He sees it as necessary, as some schools now never play teams more than 30 miles away, while schools such as Havre, or even more remote like Turner, never get opponents because no one wants to travel here. This would allow more fair scheduling for outlying schools and possibly allow schools to return to a 14-game schedule, which was done before the current 16-game schedules. Murphy votes yes.
• A proposal to overturn a change made by the executive director this spring that aligns academic standards for some activities, like large-group music like band, with all other school-sponsored activities. The change recommended this spring by the executive director would require participants in every activity to be enrolled in four classes or 20-hours of school to participate in their activities. The change to be discussed at the meeting would block the adoption of the new even standard and maintain the currently active separate policy, with exception for certain groups
Murphy’s thoughts: Murphy said the policy wouldn’t affect Havre too much, but it might interfere with students who are home-schooled but want to come to schools like Havre High School to be a part of the school band, for example. Murphy votes no.
Murphy ended by mentioning that the MHSA is asking for a zero percent increase in their budget, which he whole-heartedly supports.