SB157 places sports for all students on equal playing field “Allow non-public students to participate in public school extracurriculars”

by Stacy Bender

The benefits of school sports can be argued an essential asset to any number
of students in our public-school systems.  Sports provide an outlet to stay healthy, build self-esteem, enhance leadership skills, improve emotional fitness, gain
social skills and patience, achieve new
levels of perseverance, improve circadian rhythms, and develop life-long habits.

Though for many private and homeschool students across the State of Montana, until just two weeks ago it was not
an option to partake in such public-school programs while seeking a private

“We are so excited,” shared Kelsey Evans, Libby resident and homeschooling mother of four children – 12, 11, 8, and 6 years old.  “This is going to be so good for so many homeschooling parents and private school students. I’ve looked into the option of giving my kids that experience
in the past, but Montana had not yet come up to speed like many other states in the country.”
“I’ve paid my taxes to the school
district – and I didn’t mind doing so,”
Evans went on. “But I certainly look
forward to benefitting from some of that
funding set aside to support enrichment programming for our kids.”



‘Allow nonpublic students to participate in public school extracurriculars.’

Sponsor: Senator Hinebauch

In the 2021 Montana Legislative
Session SB157 was introduced: ‘Allow nonpublic students to participate in public school extracurriculars’ by Senator Steve Hinebauch.

On April 28, 2021, SB157 was signed into law by Montana’s Governor Gianforte. SB157 will take effect July 1, 2021.

SB157 will become a new section of
Montana law pertaining to the opportunity for nonpublic (aka ‘private’) and home schools to participate in public school
extracurricular activities (K-12). Those
activities could be sports, or even non-sports.


There are three parts to this bill:

The first part simply states that the school district may not prohibit or restrict the ability of a student(s) who is attending a nonpublic or home school, that is meeting the requirements of 20-5-109 MCA, from participating in extracurricular activities at a public school in the student’s RESIDENT SCHOOL district, based solely on whether
the student is physically attending the public school.

The second part requires that all
participating nonpublic or home school
students are subject to the same standards as public-school students in the extracurricular activities. These would be standards established by either the school district or any interscholastic association that the
public school belongs to.

Standards could relate to attending practices, participation physicals, ‘tryouts’, attending contests, etc.

The third part of the new law relates to academic eligibility. For nonpublic school students, the head administrator must attest to the achievement level of the student. For home school students, the new law states that the ‘educator providing the student instruction’ (aka parent) must attest in
writing, for verification from the public school principal. SB 157 further states that the verification may not include any form of student assessment [by the public school].

It is anticipated that there will be some guiding documents available by the end of May 2021 from Montana’s Office of Public Instruction (OPI) to help Montana’s public schools in the implementation of SB157, as well as providing assistance to interested nonpublic and home schools in their

“SB157 is incredibly welcome news for all of us at Kootenai Valley Christian School!” shared Ruthanne Dolezal, KVCS Administrator, when reached for comment this past Friday. “Many other states have
welcomed private school and homeschool students into their sports programs for years.   Here at KVCS we are thrilled to
see Montana’s Governor sign a bill that ends public school prejudice toward
private school and homeschool students and allows them an equal opportunity to participate in public school sports programs. KVCS students will benefit from the new access they have to taxpayer funded, local sports programs.”

“It’s been hurdle, and at times a big disappointment,” added Kelsey of her homeschooling experience here in Lincoln County. “I even know of parents who have wanted to homeschool but enrolled their children in public school, specifically
because of the athletic drive they could not deny and wanted to foster.”
Bridging this scholastic enrichment
gap most certainly seems the “sleeper play” of this 2021 Spring Sports season. The monumental stroke of Legislative action now setting the starting line for a new slate of young athletes to step up, push their limits, learn from their peers, and grow
to become champions in both life and
On you mark…  get set…  the coming schoolyear should be exciting to watch!

2021 Top Winners at Annual

Lil’ Anglers Fishing Day

“Thanks to everyone for coming out to enjoy the 3rd Annual Lil’ Anglers Fishing Day,” shared the Rotary Club of Kootenai Valley this past weekend. “And congratulations to this year’s winners: Ages 2-5, Xander Bush, Ages 6-8, Brielle Bridges, and ages 9-12, Mason Bache.” See more from this year’s event on Page 12.

Photo by Tracy McNew, The Montanian


Flathead Electric Trustees announce no rate revenue increase, third year in a row

Press Release—

Flathead Electric Co-op


The Flathead Electric Cooperative (FEC) Board
of Trustees is pleased to announce that due to the strong financial position of the Co-op, for the third year in a row, there will be no increase in total rate revenue collected from members for the coming year. The Board did approve a revenue-neutral change to the residential rate which includes a decrease in the Energy Charge (kWh) and an increase in the Demand Charge (kW).

Over time, the way FEC is charged by its
wholesale power provider, the Bonneville Power Administration, has changed. The Co-op now pays a premium for power used during peak hours. This adjustment is designed to both improve the way the Co-op collects revenues to cover costs as well as to give members more control over their electric bills. Some residential members will see their bills decrease since it costs the Co-op less to serve them power. Likewise, members with a higher demand during peak hours could see a slight increase in their bills. With this change, most residential members’ bills will decrease or increase by less than two
percent, depending on how they use electricity.

The demand charge is based on the highest
demand measured during the Co-op’s peak hours in each member’s billing cycle. Peak hours occur Monday through Friday from 7 to 10 a.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. (no weekends or major federal holidays).

The demand charge will be set at $0.88/kW for the coming year. Respectively, FEC’s energy charge (the amount billed for each kilowatt hour (kWh) consumed) will decrease by 2.2% for all three rate blocks. These changes will be reflected on residential electric bills issued on or after June 1, 2021.

In addition to collecting costs more equitably,
the demand charge gives FEC members another
opportunity to control their bill. Previously, using less energy was the only way to reduce bills. Now, shifting energy usage to off-peak hours whenever possible, and/or avoiding the simultaneous use of large appliances during peak hours will reduce
demand and decrease residential bills.

For more information about residential demand, or to use FEC’s residential rate calculator visit

Farm to Market Store, Grand Opening week inside long anticipated expansion

Pictured Right to Left: Leona Mast, assistant manager, Abigail Coblentz, Joanne Proctor, Christie Kehn, and one additional co-worker were all smiles on Opening Day this past week as the Farm to Market Store, located at 50 Meadowlark Lane in Libby, celebrated the long-awaited opening of its grand
expansion which now boasts an expanded deli counter, coffee bar, open-aisle shopping in a fresh and clean environment, and plenty of seating for those looking for a place to enjoy a fresh sandwich or baked treat while taking in the classic Cabinet Mountain View alongside the Libby Airport.

READ MORE ON PAGE 3   (Photo by Brian Baxter, The Montanian)