Fall referendum set on school renovation
July 10, 2013
Voters in the Havre Public Schools districts this fall will be asked to approve two construction projects.
The school board Tuesday unanimously approved submitting two proposals to voters;
• A $5 million elementary school plan calling for renovations to Sunnyside School, the construction of a gymnasium at Sunnyside and renovations to the parking lot at Havre Middle School.
• $2.6 million for renovations to the locker room area at Havre High School and the reconstruction of the wrestling room and fitness center.
Voters will be mailed ballots in September, and they must be returned by Oct. 8. Voters can mail their ballots back or drop them off at the Robins School Administration Building on 5th Avenue.
The elementary project includes an estimated $400,000 for renovations of the middle school parking lot, which Superintendent Andy Carlson said was often congested and unsafe. The parking lot would be expanded and the traffic flow would be rerouted for routine traffic and school buses.
School Board Chair Darlene Bricker said she was concerned that the unsafe conditions in the parking lot could lead to a lawsuit if a student was injured.
Carlson said Sunnyside was crowded, and those problems would be resolved by the construction.
New classrooms would be added, the office space would be moved and special education and music classes would be given better facilities, he said.
The Sunnyside cafeteria/gymnasium would be converted into a full cafeteria and the gymnasium would be added.
When student body meetings are held in the present cafeteria, Carlson said, he is fearful the district is skirting fire laws. The room is crowded to the hilt.
The new gym would provide good facilities for gym classes, he said.
The gym would also enable more community groups to use school facilities. Carlon told the board.
This year, he said, 11 community events were held in the high school gym, and 86 were held at the middle school gym.
Some groups were turned away because there were no gym facilities available, he said.
A $2 million state grant will help pay for the project, he said.
The elementary project would cost the owner of a $200,000 home $23 a year in additional taxes. he said.
The 50-year-old locker room at the high school is falling into disrepair, Carlson said.
The locker room is not in compliance with modern techniques for supervision of locker rooms and would not meet today’s Title 9 laws against gender bias.
When the locker rooms were built, he said, women only played half-court basketball and there were few interscholastic women’s sports.
The wrestling and fitness room improvements would enable the district to close the wrestling building at 2nd Street and 2nd Avenue, he said. The building could be sold and the money used to reduce the amount taxpayers have to pay.
If voters in the high school district — which includes some areas outside of the elementary district — approve the plan, it will increase the tax rate $15.45 on a $200,000 home.
“We have 50-year-old buildings,” he said. “They are good buildings, but you have got to invest in infrastructure.”
Carlson said he would like to propose further school improvements. Several people have suggested renovations to Lincoln-McKinley Primary School, but the superintendent said the district has to think of the taxpayers and what they can afford.
The proposal being submitted to the voters will take care of the critical problems facing the district, he said.