By Ron VandenBoom
The Havre Daily News is sponsoring a Education Roundtable discussion on the current and future state of education in the Havre area tonight at 7 p.m. in the Havre Holiday Village Community Conference Room.
Confirmed to participate in tonight's discussion are Alex Capdeville, chancellor of MSU-Northern, Jim Palmer, superintendent of KG Public Schools, Paul Preeshl, superintendent of Box Elder Public Schools, Jay Eslick, superintendent of Chinook Public Schools, Bill Edwards, superintendent of Big Sandy Public Schools, and Kirk Miller, superintendent of Havre Public Schools.
Also scheduled to participate are Sen. Jon Tester, D-Big Sandy, Sen. Greg Jergeson, D-Chinook, Rep. Merlin Wolery, R-Rudyard, and Rep. John Musgrove, D-Havre.
The Roundtable is expected to give legislators and educators a chance to discuss how local educational institutions will be impacted, or not impacted, by the current level of funding appropriated by the 57th Legislature. The event will also allow the public to ask questions of educators and legislators on issues of greatest concern to them.
Much debate revolved around the issue of education during the recently ended legislative session. The Roundtable is expected to give the public an opportunity to learn from the professionals what is in store for education in the Havre area over the next two years. Is closure or consolidation of public schools a real possibility in light of declining enrollments? Will students be able to afford MSU-Northern and what is the future of the Applied Technology Center at the school? Will programs or sports in smaller school districts have to be cut? And what will higher energy prices mean for the schools? Can we expect larger classes and fewer teachers?
Each legislator will be given a brief opportunity to present their view on how the legislature met, or didn't meet, the needs of public education in the state. The educators will then be given the opportunity to ask questions of the legislators or comment on their individual school districts.
The public is encouraged to attend and ask questions of the panel during the question and answer period following the panel discussion.
"We are hoping for a good turnout," said Harvey Brock, publisher of the Havre Daily News. "This will be an exceptional opportunity for the public to get a first-hand overview of the state of education in our area."