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School-religion Issue Argued

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Supporters and opponents dï the three religious groups which urged the Board of Education last week to allow religious activities in the schools pleaded their causes again last night. Although discussion of the religious requests was not on the agenda, five members of the audience, many of whom had attended last week's session, spoke on the issue during the "Questions. Comments and Petitions" portion of the meeting. Three separate proposals were presented to the trustees last week f or approval: 1) The Gideons of Washtenaw County requested permission to make copies of the New Testament available to each school child in the fifth through 12th grades; 2) The Huron Valley Youth For Christ asked authorization to organize a teen club at the high school; and 3) The Fellowship of Christian Athletes ïequested permission to orgaoize an athletic group at the high school. Board approval of any of the three requests would mean a change in previous policy, which has prohibited the formation of any school-connected group or activity which promotes a specific religious point of view. The three nroposals were .debated at length last week, but a decisión by the trustees was delayed until a legal expert on church-state relations can be consulted. Last night, three members of the audience spoke in favor of the religious requests, and two against. School Board President Hazen J. Schumacher Jr. also read three letters from Ann Arbor citizens on the ' subject, then cautioned the audience against any demonstrations for pr against the speakers. Representativos of the Gideons again remir.ded the trustees that the Bible distributions would take place after school. They also reported that the group is preparing á distribution procedure plan as requested by the school board last week. (A motion by Trustee William C. Godfrey to approve the Gideons' request was tabled last week, pending the receipt of such a distribution procedure and further discussion.) The Rev. Anthony Robinson, pastor of SI. Paul Baptist Church, also gave a plea for approval of the religious re-, quests. The Rev. Mr. Robinson attended and spoke during last week's session. He declared that hè was "deeply moved and genuinely concerned" about these religious matters. Reminding the trustees that every nation which has eliminated God from its educational' system has "collapsed with a very loud sound," he urged the board to "look for technicalities to make God available for the betterment of our citizenry." On the opposite side, the chairman of the Beth Israel Social Action Committee read a resolution passed by the group, urging the board to uphold its past policies and keep "religious activities out of the public schools." The board has been "wise in the past," he said, in barring any such activities. The home and the church, he declared, are the places for ligious education, not the public schools. C. F. Lehmann of the Washtenaw County Branch of the American Civil Liberties Union likewise read a resolution of his group, urging the board to oppose the religious requestson constitutional grounds. Allowing religious activities in the schools, he said, is contrary to both the Michigan and United States Constitutions. The Board of Education is scheduled to meet next week with Prof. Paul G. Kauper, a law professor at the University and á leading expert on church-state relations. A decisión on the t h r e e groups' requests will presumably follow soon thereafter. Budget-Study Plans Outlined March 13 is the probable date for the beginning of discussions on the 1968-69 budget, Acting Supt. W. Scott Westerman Jr. reported last night. Westerman recommended that the main portion oL the March 13 school board meeting be devoted to budgetary considerations, as well as the March 20 and 27 sessions. The superintendent a 1 s o proposed that a special meeting, perhaps for Saturday morning, March 16, also be called to discuss 1968-69 finances. ■Westerman said there is a possibility that some preliminary discussions on the subject could begin next Wednesday, March 6. On Jan. 24, the superintendent presented a preliminary budget estímate of $17.2 million. If this budget is adopted, a 12-mill operating p a c k a g e would be submitted to the school district v o t e r s this spring. The millage package would include a 4%-mill renewal and 7Vá additional milis. The 7%-mill proposal would mean a tax increase of about $7.50 per thousand of state equalized valuation. This meahs that the average Ann Arbor homeowner, w h o s e house has a market valué of about $20,000, would face a tax increase of about $75 per year. The éVfe-mill rene wal would mean no tax increase over the 1967-68 tax bill. Curriculum Changes Eyed Twelve proposals for 196869 elementary curriculum changes- totaling more than $500,000 - were presented to the Board of Education last night. Dr. Marión Cranmore, acting director of elementary education, explained the recommended improvements to the trustees. Acting Supt. W. Scott Westerman Jr. commented that his 1968 - 69 budget presentation - slated for March 6 or 13 - will not include all of the items proposed by Dr. Cranmore and her staff, but only a selected number. Dr. Cranmore's recommendations included the addition of 19 elementary classrooms, fpur librarians, an extensión of the physical education program and vocal music program, more supportive services for educationally disadvantaged pupils, and f i v e additional helping teachers. ■ Also included were requestsl for funds to improve the cur-l riculum, namely Negro his-l tory, French and educationall televisión units. Additional I funds to cover the rising costs I of books and supplies, along I w i t h money to purchase games and physical education supplies to entertain children during the lunch hours, were also requested. Lastly, some type of 1 anee for the principáis in schools with an enrollment of 550 or more students was asked. Presumably, this assistance would take the form of an assistant principal or administrator. All of Dr. Cranmore's proposals will be studied by Westerman and his staff, and some will be included in next year's budget. Vocational Concept OKd Approval of the tentative general recommendations of a Vocational-Technical Educational Education Opportunities Study for Washtenaw Counties was given by the Board of Education last night. The study was begun in January, 1967 under the direction of Earl W. Shaffer, to determine the needs and feasibility of establishing a vocationaltechnical education program to train students for the trade occupations in the two counties. A resolution by Trustee Charles H. Good, amended by Vice President Robert E. Doerr, voices support for the "general recommendations" of the study and encourages further study, but does not specify a millage proposal be put on thé June 10 ballot to finance a county-wide voca-' tional fa-cility. The resolution also asks that the full implications of the establishment of such a facility for Ann Arbor be spelled out as thoroughly as possible. . The "general recommendaI tions" which were approved