Havre Daily News
The Havre school board has revamped the application process for fifth-year seniors to include more information about the student as well as a teacher's evaluation.
Board members first discussed the changes at a Jan. 24 planning meeting. The members decided they wanted more information about the students applying for readmission and asked for a teacher's evaluation, attendance records, transcripts and discipline records.
Previously all that was required was an application and letter by the student explaining the student's need for extra time to complete school.
At its meeting last week, the board added to the application process the courses and number of credits the student needs to graduate.
The principal will recommend approval or nonapproval of the admission of the student based on the information, which will be reviewed by the superintendent and then presented to the board.
The new requirements are now in place.
Havre Public Schools Superintendent Kirk Miller said the high school averages zero to four applicants a year. Two students were re-admitted to the high school as fifth year seniors in the fall, Miller said.
Students who are 19 to 21 years old who want to return to school must seek a waiver of the board's policy, which states: “Generally, the District will not assign or admit any student who has reached age 19 on or before September 10 of the year in which the student is to enroll.”
The policy also says: “A student requesting such a waiver must list the exceptional circumstances justifying the waiver and any other information necessary to aid the principal in making an appropriate recommendation to the trustees.”
Miller said the circumstances might include medical problems.
The topic prompted lengthy discussion at both the board planning meeting and at last week's board meeting.
Board vice chair Kathie Newell suggested the addition of the number of credits and classes needed.
Board members voiced concerns that the evaluation would require too much teacher time and be burdensome, while others said if time and thought weren't put into the evaluation, they wouldn't feel comfortable voting on the admission of the student.
The superintendent said he didn't think the process would be burdensome because it would simply be an assessment based on the teacher's work with the student. He said the teacher's response should be “brief and anecdotal.”
Board member Todd Hanson disagreed.
“I would hope it would be more than anecdotal. We as a board thought this was imperative,” Hanson said. “I hope from the trustee perspective that it is very comprehensive and complete.”
Board member Norman Proctor agreed.
“If we get window dressing, we'll say, ‘Go back and do your homework,'” Proctor said.
Proctor had started the discussions by writing a letter to chair Denise Thompson in December proposing changes to the procedure for admission of fifth-year seniors.
Superintendent Miller said Havre High School principal Jim Donovan will be helping the students with the new process. He said he thinks that students who applied in the past were “coddled.”
“I ask that Mr. Donovan and Mr. (assistant prinicipal Jerry) Vandersloot not coddle them. The time for coddling needs to end,” Newell said.
Some board members said they hope the new process won't deter fifth-year seniors from attempting to return to school.
“If it's going to limit the number of people applying, I can't allow it,” Bricker said.
Newell said she supports trying the new process for a year and then reassessing it. She said the new process will help board members see that the student genuinely wants to finish school and will try hard.
“Although the success rate is not dismal, we want it increased,” she said.
According to the superintendent, eight out of 17 who have applied in the last decade graduated.
Donovan said today he thinks the new process is not too lengthy and will work for students and educators.