Voters in the Havre school districts received mail ballots this weekend on a proposal to give facelifts to Havre High School and Sunnyside Intermediate School.
Though the rate hikes will be minimal if the proposal passes, nobody wants to see taxes increase. But we think that Havre residents get a pretty good bang for their buck from the school system.
Havre students do well on standardized tests. Graduates recall fondly their classroom learning and outside-the-classroom activities. Schools are the center of Havre community life.
The schools are generally in good physical condition, but we think repairs and renovations should be made now to improve the educational experience for students and to save money in the long run.
Thus, we call on voters to approve the school board’s plan.
If the construction proposal wins voter OK, improvements at the high school will involve the locker rooms and athletic facilities.
Lockers date back to the school’s construction nearly a half-century ago. The first and best reason to approve this portion of the bond is to ensure student safety. The locker rooms have been repaired on and off for a long time, but they are in bad shape. Also, supervision is difficult or impossible, and you need only look at bullying allegations in other Montana school districts to realize that this creates major problems.
The girls locker rooms don’t meet federal Title IX requirements, having been built long before gender equality in sports was a consideration.
New locker rooms would also be helpful when the school hosts 9-C and other tournaments.
Improved wrestling and workout facilities would mean the district could sell the wrestling building at 2nd Street and 2nd Avenue and save the district expenses every year.
Sunnyside School is the most crowded of the school facilities, and it is in need of renovation.
The proposal calls for construction of four new classrooms, improvements to facilities for special education students and construction of a new gymnasium. It’s hard to argue the need for the classroom. The school is just crowded.
The gym would improve opportunities for students, free up the cafeteria during busy times of the day and open up another place for community groups to use school facilities in off-hours.
It’s hard to support renovations to a parking lot when there are other educational needs. But student and staff safety should be the No. 1 concern, and the middle school parking lot has faced some serious problems in recent years.
All in all, the school board has submitted a reasonable proposal that deserves public support.
If the high school plan is approved, it will increase the tax rate $15.45 on a $200,000 home.
We don’t take that kind of tax hike lightly. For some people, that will mean a lot. But we think voters will once again get a good bang for their buck by approving the proposal.