By Tim Leeds
The Havre High School Booster Club is helping high school kids eat on their trips this year.
The Booster Club is giving the Havre Public Schools $8,000 to pay for meals on the second and subsequent days of trips taken by Havre High students.
"After we got over the amount, we realized how many kids we'd be helping," club president Dave Daniel said. "It was kind of a no-brainer. It was a unanimous decision."
The district stopped paying for meals on activity trips as part of the restructuring of the schools approved by the School Board in April. The district eliminated a budget shortfall of more than $500,000 caused by declining enrollment and reductions to the local taxable value approved by the Legislature.
Athletic director Dennis Murphy presented the proposal to the Booster Club at its Sept. 3 meeting. Murphy said he arrived at the amount by multiplying an estimated average meal cost by the number of kids expected to go on trips lasting more than one day. The Booster Club will pay for one meal for every student each day after the first.
"The amount, I guess, was a little hard for us to understand at first, but (Murphy) did a tremendous job of having everything broken down by the program, how many days each program would have kids gone for," Daniel said.
The district hasn't paid for a meal for the first day because students are expected to pack one.
Superintendent Kirk Miller said there were three main points justifying asking the club to pay for meals after the first day. One is simply the geographic location of Havre, which requires more two-day trips than many schools.
Another is so students won't have to carry large amounts of cash. Also, it would prevent situations in which some students could afford to pay for meals while others couldn't, Miller said.
Miller said it's easy to pack a cold lunch for the first day of the trip, but having to pack for several days would be difficult. The Booster Club's help will avoid that problem.
"They, as they always do, stepped up to the plate and said yes," he added.
Daniel said a very appealing part of the help his club is providing is that it's not just for athletics. He said band, choir and the speech and debate team have the most multiple-day trips, and will benefit the most from the meals. The club prides itself on helping all activities, not just athletics, he added. "It's not just a sports club."
The club had very good tournament receipts last year, which gave it enough to be able to help with the meals, Daniel said. All of the club's money comes from tournament concessions and from the fall blue-white scrimmage.
Murphy said the district is not planning to ask the club to pay every year. "This is on a year-to-year basis," he said.
The club has planned to build new concession stands at Blue Pony Stadium, Daniel said. It hopes that after paying for the meals, it will still be able to go ahead with that project in the spring.