Stimulus money to work in schools


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Alice Campbell Havre Daily News [email protected]

It will be easier to read those textbooks soon thanks to $79,972 that Havre Public Schools has been told they are eligible for through the American Reivestment and Recovery Act funding. The money will reimburse up to 80 percent of the work planned at the Havre Middle and High schools based on an energy audit performed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology. The work includes the recommendations that lighting be changed to energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs and motion detection lighting be installed in certain areas. The entire project as presented by NCAT does not have to be done, which can cut down the costs. Superintendent Dave Mahon said at Tuesday evening's Havre Schools Board of Trustees meeting. It's a matter of "just deciding what we want to do and what we can do," he said. The grant application requested funding to improve the lighting and energy sources at the other schools in the district, but that funding was turned down, a decision that Mahon said was made by the s tat e Department of Commerce because only $15 million total was available and $30 million was requested by schools from around the state. The original plan included an approximate $45,000 rebate from NorthWestern Energy. "So that'll help quite a bit" in making up the 20 percent not covered by grant money, Mahon said. To make other possible stimulus funding have a "more permanent impact," Mahon suggested that a proposed project at Highland Park Early Primary School South be pared down and split into three phases. Phase I would include the building of four classrooms, four offices and one set of bathrooms at an estimated price of less than $1 million. Phase II would create several more classrooms and offices. Phase III would build a cafeteria/ multipurpose room. Mahon suggested the focus be on Phase I to create a school where all K-1 students can be accommodated in the same building instead of being split, as they are currently, between Highland Park South and Highland Park North. Clerk Zella Witter told trustees that building reserve funds could be used to help pay for the multi-phase project, "and there are some grants out there." Nelson Architects have been contacted to prepare preliminary designs and estimates, Mahon said, and added that John Nault of Nault Plumbing Has been consulted about the boiler that will be replaced this summer to make sure that it will work well for the largerproposed building. The possibility of selling the Highland Park North building is being looked into, Mahon said in response to a question of doing so to recoup some capital. A preliminary report should be ready to present to trustees at their Aug. 11 meeting, Mahon told board members. The board took action on several other items: Students wishing to attend school in the Cottonwood District will be allowed do so by unanimous decision of the Havre school board trustees, but the district will not be eligible for reimbursement from the state. Witter said that the children can still attend the Cottonwood school. "That is parents' perogative to do that," but that "we are costing the taxpayers extra dollars by (allowing Cottonwood schools to seek transportation reimbursement for the students)," she added. Trustees unanimously approved a change of wording to Mahon's contract to give him sick leave, personal days and vacations days upfront without the need for him to accrue them. "He is getting what the contract originally said," board Chairman Shad Huston said. "We're just front loading it. "We thought that that should be in there" like it is in other teacher and administrator contracts, Huston added. Mahon was alloted 15 days of vacation, 12 days of sick leave and Huston allowed for the personal days to be flexible. Mahon informed trustees that the track resurfacing project should be completed by the end of July. By a unanimous vote, trustees moved the monthly personnel meeting time to noon. Trustees unanimously approved the following personnel appointments: Frank Witter, computer assistant; Stephanie Coon, bus driver; Jane Leinwand, elementary teacher. Trustees also accepted the resignations of teacher Sue Champagne, paraprofessional Toni McKittrick and high school assistant swim coach Sally Porter. The board will meet again Aug. 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the Havre Middle School assembly room.


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