During the first Havre Public Schools Board of Trustees meeting of the 2012-2013 school year, the board got an idea of how the school year is starting, in enrollment, the budget and last year’s assessments.
Superintendent Andy Carlson explained how enrollment numbers have risen over the past few weeks to more comfortable levels.
While still not the official fall count that happens next month, Tuesday night’s figures were higher than the estimates Carlson shared on the schools’ first day last month.
Last year’s 185 kindergartners have become 178 first-grade students. Currently 160 students are enrolled in kindergarten, having grown from 150 on the first day.
The rest of the elementary district is still hovering around usual levels, just less than 150 students per class and 300 per school.
At Havre High School, a small senior class brings the total school population to 568, which is higher than last spring, but Carlson warned that the district needs to keep an eye on any change in that number, be they through transfers or dropouts. Going much lower would have a “significant impact on funding next year, ” Carlson said.
The enrollment talk was tied to another discussion over a few grant applications the district is submitting, for projects at Havre High School and Sunnyside Intermediate School.
The Havre High project would finally complete long-discussed renovations of locker rooms and bathrooms, that have been delayed by the high school’s roof collapse a few years ago.
Carlson said the students are using these rooms that were built 50 years ago and haven’t been updated since. He also expressed a concern about Title IX requirements that mandate equal facilities for girls and boys. As is, Carlson said it could be a compliance issue.
The Sunnyside project would add space to the foyer and office area, help them to not share cafeteria and gym space, and add meeting rooms as “intervention rooms are basically the hall, which is not ideal, ” Carlson said.
He expressed skepticism about the $6.1 million Sunnyside project’s chances with the highly competitive grant, but it is a move the district needs to think about.
Trustee Curtis Smeby asked how possible it would be to consider an even bigger project that could also update the aging Lincoln-McKinley Primary School building as well. Carlson said that would definitely be an option to look at.
Carlson also said that the Havre Middle School parking lot is a big priority of the district, but these priority projects are starting to pile up. This especially concerns the administration, as class sizes not seen in years will leave the relatively new Highland Park building for the other elementary schools that are squeezed as is.
“I would be dishonest to tell you I have a great plan, ” Carlson said. “I don't know if we're going to find a great plan. We might just need a plan we can work with.
“Work is not getting cheaper, and our facilities are not getting newer. ”