The general consensus during a Havre Public Schools Board of Trustees meet ing was that the Highland Park Early Primary School North building should be donated to the Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line. The building, also known as the Devlin School, has been shared by the club and the school district for the past three years, but the club had used the full building from 2001 until then. By this fall, an addition to Highland Park's south campus will create enough room to house all kindergarten and firstgrade students in that building, making the need for the four classrooms currently utilized by the district unnecessary. "My personal preference would be to donate the school to the Boys & Girls Club," board Chairperson Shad Huston said. The school district and the Club have a positive and complementary relationship, he said, and that relationship is helping students. Interim Superintendent Andy Carlson also said that the club is a benefit to the students and the community. Several of the club's programs and grants, like one being used to address dropout prevention, work into the district's overall plan, he said. "They take what we do and build onto it," he said. District buses transport 200 to 300 students a day to the club, said Jim Donovan, the district's operations manager. "So to us, there's great value in that," he said. If the club were able to utilize the entire building, the enrollment cap could be raised, both Carlson and the Club's executive director Krista Solomon said. More than 700 area children utilized the club when it was able to use all the building's space, said Tim Brurud, the club's director, adding that the number would probably be about the same if the club gained access to the whole building. "We want to be able to open our doors up to more kids in the communiTy," Solomon said. Originally the school board planned to discuss the issue of what to do with the building in August, but Huston said that because of monetary issues, the conversation had to be moved up. The club didn't want to invest in a building it wasn't sure it would be using come fall, he added. Currently, the club pays an average of between $55,000 and $60,000 a year as its half of building expenses like heat and maintenance, Solomon said. Additional expenses such as fixing the building's roof and updating plumbing and electrical systems would cost additional money. The hope is to start thinking about how to improve the building before winter weather sets in, Solomon said. One of the options for the building that Carlson presented to trustees was to close another building and move those students to the Devlin building, but because such an action wouldn't increase space or parking, he didn't recommend it. The cost of repairs and maintenance is too great to make it feasible, he said. "That option just really isn't even on the table," he said. "It's not worth it" for the district to do, Donovan said. "The roof needs to be redone, bottom line," he said, adding that plumbing, electrical and heating systems also need to be examined, to the likely tune of $250,000. The district could sell the building as a third option, but Donovan said that the type of property limits the number of potential buyers to either private schools, Boys & Girls clubs or something like a retirement home. He estimated that the building is worth $100,000. To appraise the building would cost tens of thousands of dollars, he added, meaning that the profit would probably be minimal. The district can donate the building to the club because of its non-profit status, Carlson said. The resolution would include language outlining that if the club ever became a forprofit that ownership of the building would revert back to the district. The exchange can take place through an election or through a resolution, with the resolution being the easiest and fastest, he said. Huston said that the language of the agreement should also take into account the possibility that the south campus addition might not be completed by the start of the school year in August. "It probably won't happen, but you never do know," he said. "I see this as a positive for all of us," Carlson said about donating the building. "They've helped this community in more ways than one," trustee Harvey Capellen said, adding that the club deserves the building. Lincoln-McKinley Primary School Principal Karla Geda also praised the club for their work, saying that club staff helps students with homework. "There's constant communication," she said. "So we very much appreciate their help on everything," she said. "They've been very good to us." The support of the district has been integral in the club's success, Brurud said. "We couldn't do what we do without that relationship," he said. A meeting to hear concerns and comments from the community has been scheduled for Tuesday, April 6.
Boys & Girls Club may soon get Devlin School
Published: Friday, March 26th, 2010
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