Schools respond to state findings
According to the Montana Office of Public Instruction, Havre Public Schools need to provide better documentation in its federal Title I procedures.
Most of Tuesday night's Board of Trustees meeting was spent addressing the findings of a state auditor who visited the district this spring and talking about how the elementary and high school districts were addressing the issues he raised.
Superintendent Andy Carlson began by saying that he appreciated the input and found the timing of the audit advantageous.
"Given the newness of me and my position, and the newness of Mr. Korst (assistant superintendent), it was good timing, " Carlson said. "It was good to hear where we are at with the federal regulations. "
The Havre schools were among a half dozen districts audited this year for how they are doing with Title I, which Korst described as "designed for communities with higher poverty to close performance gaps. "
The program provides federal funds to schools in which the economic background of students is thought to be a factor in their success.
And after the auditor came to visit Havre in March, it appears most of his concern is with documentation that the federal laws require to receive the funding.
Of the 17 findings
returned to the district in May by OPI, 12 required that the districts submit more documentation or plans written to address specific sections of the law. Of those, three wanted more information about parent involvement plans.
Korst said that the schools already had parent involvement policies that they just needed to show the state. He, Carlson and Board Chair Darlene Bricker all said they planned on working on a committee to form better ways of working with students' parents.
Parents would also be reached by the mailing of two new required letters to let them know about the qualifications of their children's teachers and about the school's performance in standardized Adequate Yearly Progress tests.
Carlson said letters like those had been sent out before, when the No Child Left Behind act first took effect.
"We got five letters back, " Carlson said. "The tone of those letters was, 'why are you spending time and money telling us what we already know? '"
The other main concern, that couldn't be addressed by uploading or mailing documents, was the relationship between Havre's public and private schools.
The auditor's report commended the districts on the easy and friendly relationship between Havre Public Schools and St. Jude Thaddeus School, but said that a more formalized and documented relationship was required.
Korst said the main reason this has taken longer than the others is that St. Jude's Principal Carol Ortman was on a summer vacation recently, and as soon as she was back, they would hash that out.
Aside from the recognition of the pleasant relations with private schools, the last page of the findings congratulates the district on all it does well, from the "truly ambitious curriculum development project" in math to the "excellence in their IEFA (Indian Education For All) programs. "
Carlson said that when the auditor was at the school, the districts did everything they could to help him with what he needed, and with that access the auditor reported that he had "no concerns in terms of Title I fiscal management. "