By Tim Leeds
The Havre Public Schools Education Foundation, which held its first quarterly board meeting ever on Oct. 9, has already collected nearly $36,000.
"We're off to a good running start," said Norm Gorder, vice president of the foundation.
Dr. Kirk Miller, superintendent of public instruction for the Havre district and ex officio member of the foundation board, said they are ready and willing to move forward in any way possible to the education community.
Board member Ray Peck said the foundation gives people the opportunity to provide additional funds for local education. He said the school districts have been limited by the Supreme Court in levying special mills for education, and the foundation provides the opportunity to collect additional funds for the Havre District.
Rick Harada, president of the foundation board, said that many people have wanted to make contributions in the past, but the school district was not equipped to accept them.
Byron Ophus, secretary-treasurer of the board, said the tax-deductibility of contributions to the non-profit organization is a big issue. He said what the foundation can do for the kids in the future by enhancing the educational opportunities is another.
"It's less tax revenue for Uncle Sam," Gorder said, "but more benefit for the local people."
The foundation was established in March by the Havre Public Schools Board of Trustees to raise, accumulate and disburse funds, through tax-deductible gifts, grants and bequests, to improve, enhance and support educational opportunities for students in the district. The first board of directors was approved by the school board in May. Early spring and summer was spent organizing and planning the new foundation's activities.
The donations already collected by the foundation include three sizable endowments with specified uses; the Robert Ragnvald Estate donated a $10,000 endowment for enhancing the golf programs at the Havre Middle School and Havre High School, the Bart Nolan Memorial Scholarship Fund has an endowment of more than $10,000 for establishing art scholarships and almost $13,000 in donations have been made to the Elliot Family Endowment to provide scholarships in memorial to Dr. Jim Elliot.
The BZB Corporation, founded by local attorney Brad Dugdale Sr. and his sons, Brad Dugdale Jr. of Couer d'Alene, Idaho, and Zack Dugdale of Whitefish, made a $1,000 contribution to the foundation's general fund, and the foundation has received nearly $1,000 in contributions from Havre High class reunions over the summer.
Miller said the scholarship endowments will allow the foundation to start providing scholarships next spring, and the interest from the Ragnvald endowment will be available for the golf programs. Board members said while they probably all have "wish lists," other projects for the foundation are still in the planning stages.
Ex officio member Kathie Newell, the school board representative, said they would like to be considered for inclusion in events like anniversaries, reunions and birthdays, as well as memorials. Harada said they would also like to be in contact with service groups and area organizations.
Board member Wells Lamey said one thing he would like to see the foundation provide is the opportunity for every graduate of the high school to receive a scholarship. Newell said the foundation could possibly provide funds for wrestling rooms at the high school or middle school, new band uniforms, or other enhancements mill levies can't pay for right now.
Harada said a possible investment could be a new sound system at the high school.
The foundation is a separate entity from the school district, working in cooperation with the district but acting independently.