Culver Community High School now has a regular weekend tenant, but school board members had a few questions about what kind of precedent that sets going forward.
Culver Crossroads Church is taking up residence in the cafeteria and multipurpose room on Saturday evenings, following the school board’s approval Monday. Middle/High School Principal Brett Bernt said the the church has used the facility a few times already, but he wanted the school board’s permission before letting them use it every week. “In the past, we haven’t had any stipulations, so any group that has wanted to come into the school, we allowed to, really, for no fee,” he explained. “Groups have made donations to us, just saying ‘Thank you for letting us use your facility,’ but we have not charged them. The only times we do charge them is if we have our custodian need to clean before or after, and then we charge them a custodian fee. This can open up the door to let anybody come and use it.”
Board members were concerned they would have to allow potential extremist groups to use school facilities, if requested. But Superintendent Karen Shuman said the corporation can set some guidelines in its building use permits. “If you put in the language, ‘Anything that disrupts our school day or impacts our educational environment in a negative way, we have the rights to null and void this contract.’ So with that kind of language also within there, we could say, ‘What you’re doing on Saturday night has now impacted our school day, and we no longer wish to.’ And that could be with anything,” she said.
School board member Bill Sonnemaker said as long as it doesn’t interfere with school activities, he’s in favor of opening up the buildings to community groups. “The more we can use the buildings, I think the better off it is,” he said, “and even though the school built the buildings, the taxpayer paid for it.”
Berndt doesn’t believe the church services will interfere with school activities, but school officials say Crossroads Church has agreed to work with them, if a conflict does come up. The school board approved Crossroads Church’s facilities use request, unanimously.