After years of Cottonwood Elementary School sending a bus to pick up students inside Havre, the district now has an agreement that gives them permission.
The Havre Public Schools Board of Trustees voted unanimously at their meeting Tuesday afternoon to approve an annual inter-district agreement that allows a Cottonwood bus to stop at the First Lutheran Church on 6th Avenue.
Hill County Superintendent of Schools Diane McLean thanked the board for having “graciously allowed us to stop there. ” McLean said the Lutheran church bus stop addresses several concerns Cottonwood has, offering students shelter, access to a phone and bathrooms and an active day care facility, for parents who may not be able to beat the bus.
The closest Cottonwood bus stop before Tuesday’s agreement was near Devon Energy’s building on U. S. Highway 2, west of Havre.
McLean had asked the board for this agreement at their July meeting, but the request was not on the agenda so they couldn’t approve it.
Havre Public Schools Superintendent Andy Carlson said he had met with McLean in the past week to hash out each side’s concerns with the process.
Carlson spelled out the two ways that one district can bus students from another district.
The first is, like the board approved, an annual agreement that must be approved by each subsequent board.
The second is more complex, dealing with overlapping districts of different types.
Cottonwood is an elementary-only district, like its neighbor Havre’s District A. Havre’s District 16, the separate high school district, covers both areas.
Carlson explained that as long as a high school aged student lives in the Cottonwood elementary district, then Havre Public Schools can send buses in and pick up whatever students, high school or elementary, are at those stops.
Trustee Curtis Smeby asked what would happen if Cottonwood was “amalgamated” with Havre, the way Havre’s elementary and high school districts are joined.
“Let me guess what it is, ” Smeby said. “It’s about taxes. ”
Trustee Aileen Couch said she had always heard that the taxes would go up a lot if Cottonwood joined Havre, but she had never seen any information explaining how much and why.
McLean said there would be some issues with reconciling the two districts’ mill levies. She and Carlson agreed to get together, exchange some figures and determine just what that process would entail.