By Tim Leeds
The Havre School Board has approved the district's first high school activity fee as well as prices for attending high school competitions and events.
The fee will cost students $20 per activity, with a $40 per-student limit and an $80 per-family limit no matter how many events the students participate in. Superintendent Kirk Miller told the board Tuesday that paying the fee will not guarantee the students playing time in competitive events.
Students will have to pay to participate in all Montana High School Association-sanctioned extracurricular activities and cheerleading at the high school. Miller said that because of the high school music program's close ties to curricular offerings, fees will not be required for band and choir participation.
The schedule provides a full fee refund for students who are cut from activities, a pro-rated refund for injured students or extenuating circumstances, and no refund for students who withdraw or are cut for disciplinary reasons. Miller said scholarships would be made available from sources outside of district money for students who can't afford to pay the fees.
The board also approved some changes to the admission prices to high school activities. Individuals will now be able to buy an all-activity annual pass for $50, and families can buy a season pass for admission to all events for one season of an activity for $75. Previously, the only option was for a family all-activity annual pass. The price for that option will increase from $100 to $125. The family passes exclude children who have graduated from high school.
The activity fee was proposed as part of a restructuring plan of the schools to meet expected budget reductions. The deficit was estimated at $660,000 next year due to reduced state funding because of declining enrollment.
The restructuring includes the reduction of staff and programs at the high school and middle school, the closure of Devlin Elementary School and the conversion of the remaining three schools to grade-level schools. In the grade-level system, kindergarten and first-grade students will attend Highland Park School, second- and third-graders will attend Lincoln-McKinley School, and all fourth- and fifth-graders will attend Sunnyside School.
The restructuring included the elimination of 12 full-time teaching positions.
Miller gave the board an update on the scheduling of some special services. He said that because of concerns raised by Havre people about the restructuring of the music programs, the administration worked with principals and the music staff and revised that plan.
Miller said that under the new plan, there will be no change in the music offerings at the middle school. He said Havre Middle School band teacher Dave Carlson and Havre High School music teachers Ron Coons and Frank Payn will each teach two fifth-grade music classes at Sunnyside. Linda Kiemele will teach fourth-grade music at Sunnyside, as well as teaching third- and fourth-grade music at Lincoln-McKinley and first-grade music at Highland Park.
Miller said Coons will reduce the band offerings at the high school from three bands to two.
"We don't have the numbers in the high school anymore to generate three bands," Miller said.
He said the plan for busing is basically set. There will be grade-level busing to the elementary schools, requiring the purchase of one new bus. The morning and afternoon kindergarten classes will have access to busing both to school and back home. Rural bus schedules will be about the same.
Miller said the school schedules will differ slightly, with kindergarten through third-grade starting at 8:20 a.m. and dismissing at 2:45 p.m., grades 4 and 5 going from 8:35 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the middle school and high school schedules remaining the same. Miller said the staggering of sc hool schedules was needed to allow for the planned busing.
The restructuring will include breakfasts being offered to all elementary students, middle school and high school students, and lunches served in all buildings. The afternoon kindergarten classes will be offered lunch with the first-graders. Miller said the satellite breakfast program will be a "grab-and-go" program like the one provided at the middle school.
Board member Kathie Newell said it will be important to let parents know the breakfast program is being offered on a trial basis, and that if it is not used it could be eliminated.
Ric Floren, director of operations for the district, said the moving of teachers and materials to convert the elementary schools under the restructuring is progressing well. He said they have completed moving the materials to and cleaning the classrooms in Highland Park School, and expect to complete that at Sunnyside School by the middle of next week.
Floren said the job of reorganizing the four school's libraries into three grade-level libraries also is about complete. He said the librarians at the schools were extremely well-organized for the move, making that a fairly simple, although physically extensive, job.