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Havre school board candidates answer questions

 


Four candidates are running for three seats on the Havre school board in Tuesday's election.Voting will take place 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Havre High School gym.

The Havre Daily News interviewed three of the candidates about some of the issues facing the district. Candidate Cindy Erickson did not respond to repeated requests for an interview from the Havre Daily News.


Edroy 'Curt' Curtis

What qualities make a good trustee, and how do you exemplify them?

I have a great interest in the school system.

I have a couple of boys that go to the school at the high school level presently.

My oldest daughter has completed her bachelor's degree and is teaching choir and Spanish in the public school system over in Minnesota and North Dakota and my youngest daughter, who is a sophomore at Northern, is training to be an english teacher.

So teaching runs in our family.

Of course, I work in a church, and I teach a different subject matter, but it's still teaching.

So I'm very interested in the school system.

Budgets are a big concern for any public entity. Where do you think Havre Public Schools can look to fit these constraints?

I have a feeling that this particular issue is going to be really tough because most probably the budget has already been cut with regards to supplies and resources.

I'm sure that the last thing the school would want to do is cut personnel.

But your budget can only be cut so far as far as resources, supplies and material goods. You can only go so far with that before you're pretty much at bare bones. Then you have no choice but to cut personnel.

I think the first thing I'd look at is are we to that point yet where we've basically cut down to the bare bones as far as our resources and materials. And if we've reached that point, then it doesn't matter who the board member is. Then you're faced with the very hard decision of: 'Now we have to cut personnel. Who do we cut? '

That's going to take some study. That's going to take a collaborative effort, because no one's going to want to take the brunt of that decision, but I have a feeling that some of those decisions will have to be made.

After the recent controversy in Helena with their new sex education curriculum, what effect could that have on Havre and similar programs here?

I know it was quite a buzz in Helena when that was going on. Even in the religious community a lot of buzz and stir. A lot of folks were upset.

The first thing is, before you go one way or another, I think a lot of people weigh in on a matter without really knowing all of the material that was involved with that.

I took some time to read it. Granted there were some things that were upsetting to me, but not everything was upsetting to me. There were a lot of good things that were presented.

I'm definitely going to be that kind of person that wants to look at the whole thing, and then weigh each part and see what we have. What we can change, what we cannot. And go from that vantage point.

What are your thoughts on recent requests to allow neighboring districts to exchange students with the Havre district?

I know it would be attractive to get more students. We always would like to have more students, that means more funding, et cetera.

But at the same time, are we also extending the the opening to come get our districts students.

I don't think we can say we're going to go get these students and bring them in, and then turn around and tell those districts they can't have our students.

If open-ended both ways, or close-ended both ways, I would be in favor of that.

One saying yes and the other saying no, that just doesn't seem right.

After seeing the engineering report that showed faults in the construction of the Havre High School roof, how should the district handle the issues of accountability?

I don't think I'd be interested in looking into (the collapse) from the vantage point of whether we have leverage to go after somebody.

However, I think it would be valuable to take a look at that.

It's one thing to say we want to make the right decisions now, but one of the best ways to make the right decision now is to not repeat the mistakes we made before.

It might be wise to look into that to make sure we don't do that again, and from here on let's do something different.

We should learn from what happened before and obviously don't do that again.


Curtis Smeby

What qualities make a good trustee, and how do you exemplify them?

I think being able to listen is an important piece and be aware of the challenges and issues that are a part of the management and administration of the district is critical.

It's important to listen to all voices and work with the superintendent as the chief academic officer of the district.

To be aware of the limitations of an individual member of the board, that the board speaks as one. But at the same time we would expect and hope that there are different views as board members.

If you want to have an expression of ideas and dialogue.

Being able to speak your mind and not be afraid.

Budgets are a big concern for any public entity. Where do you think Havre Public Schools can look to fit these constraints?

My sense is, right now, that we probably will be able to maintain our current status, but that will be more and more challenging over the next two or three years especially at the high school, because of the numbers of students that are going to be attending and the ANB dollars that are tied to that.

That should get a little better in three or four years.

We'll probably be in better shape then.

But changes certainly seem to be occurring and that's going to be a challenge to make sure we can squeeze every penny out of that dollar that we can acquire.

We've been real lucky with the district and supporting education.

Havre does support education. That's a wonderful thing, and I trust that will continue.

After the recent controversy in Helena with their new sex education curriculum, what effect could that have on Havre and similar programs here?

Any time there can be an issue that comes up that is related to sex it's a hot topic, especially when you talk about public schools.

People have their ability to speak openly about their concerns.

Everybody has choices, whether they send their children to public schools, private schools or home school.

Those are all viable options for people in Montana.

Being on the board, I have a strong belief that public education is a strong option.

Is it perfect? Probably not. Though private education isn't perfect and I'm pretty sure that home schooling isn't perfect either.

With the resources we have, I believe we do it pretty grounded and have the opportunity to work with teachers and students to make them the best they can be.

What are your thoughts on recent requests to allow neighboring districts to exchange students with the Havre district?

I believe we have a good public school system.

I think class A is the right size.

It's like goldilocks. It's not too big. It's not too small. It's just right.

I don't think we need to be afraid.

If there are people that want to come to Havre school district from Rocky Boy or other districts, we should do what we can to facilitate that.

At the same time if there are people in the Havre district that want to go to another district, that should be an option too.

In five years, if someone said "Curtis, we've lost so many students because of this inapporopriate or silly decision," I would say we would probably need to rethink that.

But at the same time, if people are choosing not to come, then I think that should make the case for us to look at what we do internally.

I'm not afraid to put what we do in this district up against what other districts do or do not do.

In shear economic terms, I believe we would have a gain in student count based on that.

If other students are flocking to Havre, because we have such a good district, then my guess is that those boards would look and say, "What aren't we doing? Or what should we be doing?"

I think we should welcome it. If we can learn from it, that's good.

After seeing the engineering report that showed faults in the construction of the Havre High School roof, how should the district handle the issues of accountability?

There are some legal ramifications for that. I know Andy and legal representation put some cautions on the district.

There's some limitation of responsiblity. If I recall correctly, that's ten years.

That roof was built in 1997, the year before I came to Havre.

We are working with insurance to do the best that we can.

At the same time, we will have to take some of our reserve dollars and building dollars to help support and make that a safe and secure environment for teachers and students at the high school.

It's unfortunate. I'm sure we would have done some things differently if we had known the collapse was impending, but we did not.


Darlene Bricker

What qualities make a good trustee, and how do you exemplify them?

I think a good trustee should be a person who is very interested in how well our students are doing; that we can provide a good education for them; not lose programs; but just stay focused on what's important: the teacher, the student, the programs.

And I think that because I have had a teaching background. I am able to understand the importance of a board that backs you and lets you focus on your job, and that is to teach.

Budgets are a big concern for any public entity. Where do you think Havre Public Schools can look to fit these constraints?

We have been very vigilant over this last year, looking at what might be cut from our budgets.

So we've tried to be as conservative as we could be.

We've worked out different scenarios. If we are budgeted this much, these are the programs we could provide.

If it doesn't come to fruition in the Legislature, then we'll take another look at where we could slim down.

But we've taken a careful careful analysis over the last year, because it's important.

The economy is bad. No one has a lot of spare money.

I'm a business owner as well as an instructor, so I know that times are hard.

After the recent controversy in Helena with their new sex education curriculum, what effect could that have on Havre and similar programs here?

I have read a portion of that change.

I see that we are very happy where our health education stands at this point.

We know that there are some things that have changed over the past 20-25 years.

And we've tried to keep that so that our students are able to make good choices and have the support that they need to ask questions, as well as their parents.

What are your thoughts on recent requests to allow neighboring districts to exchange students with the Havre district?

I would like to meet with the districts to see how this could be a collaborative effort that is suitable for both sides, where both sides gain.

I think that is where we've always stood, and I think that there will be a little bit more talking, from what I've heard at some of the board meetings.

I'm open for anything that is good for both districts.

After seeing the engineering report that showed faults in the construction of the Havre High School roof, how should the district handle the issues of accountability?

I think the district did the very best thing that they could do, to make sure that that building was safe for students and teachers and to continue with the learning that is supposed to be happening.

Our district also has a responsibility to look at what was done. For most of this, we have to go back quite a few years, before I think any board members or even any administration might have been here when this was done.

We should continue to investigate, continue to have our insurance look at it, and try to make the best of a very bad situation for the winter.

 

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