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Awards given and attendance lauded during Havre school board meeting

 

December 12, 2018



Two high school students were presented with an award at the beginning of the Havre Public School Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night in Havre Middle School’s Assembly Room.

The board presented Havre High School football player Kasee Henderson and volleyball player Cassidy Acor with awards for Outstanding Academic Achievement.

Havre School Superintendent Andy Carlson said the board hasn’t presented these awards for a while despite having plans in place for them.

The two athletes then took a photo with the board members.

“A lot of the time, we get to come and watch you on the floor,” Carlson said. “But our board doesn’t always get to recognize you. Certainly, (the board is) a big reason why we have the activities we have. They’re very supportive of all the things that happen at our schools. I think it’s important to have a formal recognition when our students do well.”

Havre Middle School Assistant Principal Jeremiah Nitz addressed attendance for the middle school. He passed out a card to the board members, as well as Carlson and Assistant Superintendent Craig Mueller, with a three-year comparison on attendance data at the middle school.

Nitz said attendance has been around 94 and 93 percent, but the number of absent days for students has come out to 1,590 days total.

“Even with an attendance rate like 93.7 percent, it seems ludicrous almost, a little bit,” he added. “I would love to hit that magic 95 percent number. That’s a number I’ve thrown to the staff. At this time of year, you just see a lot of absences. A lot of kids on vacation. It’s beginning to be cold season, flu season.”

Following the Christmas break, Nitz said, the school will have incentive programs to help bring attendance up to that 95 percent goal.

He added that unexcused absences have decreased and attributed that to the Infinite Campus tool’s automatic phone calls.

He also attributed the decline to Havre Middle School Secretary Meg Lippy.

“All I can say is Meg Lippy is a force of nature,” Nitz said. “If she hasn’t heard from you in a day or two, she’s on the phone and she will track you down and find out what’s going on with your child.”

Nitz said that, this year, 127 behavioral referrals were made, which is a decrease from last year’s numbers. He added that 12 fewer disciplinary referrals were made this year than at this time last year.

The data also shows most of the problems come from the classroom, Nitz said, but this is a good thing.

“What does that tell you? Well, our common areas, our lunchtime, our hallways, our passing time, I think, are extremely well-supervised. We don’t see a ton of behavior happening in those areas,” he added.

Nitz said classroom referrals also decreased. He attributed the success to implementation of a flowchart.

“There’s a clearly defined separation of who does what,” he added.

Nitz said room for improvement still exists.

Nitz said the middle school plans on launching a “Check and Connect” program after the holiday break. After Christmas, every teacher in the district will receive training on this program.

The program works by assigning students who are struggling in school to a teacher-advisor. Nitz said the aim right now is to match two students with each of the 30 teacher-advisors.

The staff will work to build a personal connection to the students by asking them what they need to succeed at school, he added.

“It’s a more pointed discussion than just handing them a list of missing work,” Nitz said. “So, two kids in every advisory room is 60 kids. Which, if you go back to this little box right here, roughly, how many kids have disciplinary referrals? Sixty kids. That’s kind of that magic number we’re working for.”

Havre High School Assistant Principal Pax Haslem spoke about the high school’s attendance. He said he has only been here three months, but was proud to say that the attendance for the high school has been around 94 and 95 percent.

Haslem said that after the high school closed due to the threat last month, attendance the next day was still at 95.5 percent.

“Our kids and our parents felt safe enough to come back to school that next day,” he added. “It’s very satisfying for us. There were only 46 kids that were absent that day.”

Haslem said 36 students have missed 10 or more days of school and have received letters that they will not receive credit for their classes. He added that these 36 students are also responsible for the attendance numbers.

Letters have been sent out to families notifying them when their student has missed five days of school, Haslem said, and a copy is sent to him as well. The letters were created by Assistant Superintendent Craig Mueller to help both parents and faculty keep track of their students.

He added that he is working with the Hill County Attorney’s Office, as well, to help keep kids in school. Truancy citations have been issued, he said, and parents have called in upset, but the goal remains to help students stay in school.

“It at least gets them in the office. They’re yelling and screaming but at the end they know we’re pretty serious about it and want their kid to be educated.”

Haslem said a few students have dropped out already. He added that the school still tries to keep in touch in with those students who dropout to try and make sure they get their GED somehow. They also let the kids know that they can come back to Havre High to finish their schooling if they want to.

“I’m hoping, at my three-year report, I can tell you that we had nobody drop out yet. Or that I can tell you that we’re at 99 percent. Or that I can tell you that … only three kids are losing credit,” Haslem added.

 

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