Havre High School asking for levy increase, proposes some new courses


March 11, 2020

Havre Daily News/Jack Lambert

Havre High School English teacher Mandy Nitz talks Tuesday during a Havre School Board of Trustees meeting in the assembly room at Havre Middle School about a survey they provided to the students. The survey asked students nine questions about how well they thought the school was serving them.

Mill levy options and course changes at the high school were discussed at the Havre School Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday.

Havre Public Schools Superintendent Andy Carlson said the Havre Public School district has not run a levy since 2016.

"I'm going to recommend a high school mill levy and that's to keep our budget authority," he said. "On the high school side, we are going to ask for a levy of $46, 714, that's 1.8 mills."

That equates to an annual increase in taxes of $2.44 for a $100,000 home, or $4.88 for a $200,000 home.

Carlson said the district is asking for the levy because, with the way school funding works, it is likely to see a reduction in its budget next year even though it is likely to have an increase in students, and it wants to keep its high school budget authority up.

"We are going to have more students at Havre High next year because we have a larger class coming in than what we have leaving, but we are funded by the students we have this year," he said.

Carlson said in an interview after the meeting the levy request is not finalized until the board approves it, which is planned for a vote at the board's special meeting March 24.

The ballots for the election, which also includes three seats on the school board, will be mailed out Wednesday, April 15, and due back Tuesday, May 5.

The levy would be only for the high school and is the first levy increase the district has asked for since 2016, Carlson said.

The board also heard proposals for some new classes at the high school.

Havre High School Principal Ed Norman said the high school is looking at creating five elective courses for the upcoming school year.

"Some of the changes, I think, are really going to benefit our students," he said.

He said the high school has been working with Assistant Superintendent Craig Mueller to make certain the classes are appropriate to present.

He said one proposal is for a piano keyboard class, which would increase the electives available in the music department.

"We have a lot of kids interested in doing some things musically," Norman said.

Worman said he would like to create an entry-level elective class, so the piano and keyboarding class is one that the high school wants to do through its music program.

Another proposal is a computer coding and design class.

"The computer coding class is one of that we are adding to our business department, and again, it's one of those things in today's technology age that we believe is really important for our kids to start doing," Norman said. "This is another one of those classes that I think is going to help grow our kids to a point where if they take this class and leaving the high school they are going to be a little more prepared as far as going into some kind of computer field."

Mueller said students will also have the opportunity to take this course as dual credit through Montana State University's Gallatin College.

The high school is also proposing revising its art electives, Norman said, adding that this year the high school is in a curricular cycle year for fine arts.

"This is something with our new art teacher coming in this year and sitting down, they've put a lot of time into this, and the way the art had been set up there wasn't a clear lineage of 'take this then this class is next,' etcetera," he said. "What they did, proposed and worked with Mr. Muller and myself in aligning these things, so kids are more apt to know the process or the way to go through the art program, so that's basically what we've done with art 1, 2, 3 and 4 is just rename courses we've already had and so they know what the progression is through the courses."

  Mueller said with the art courses students have an opportunity to build their portfolio as well as submit the portfolios to the advanced placement board for college credit.

Arts and Crafts 2 and a pottery course also would be created as electives. Norman said Arts and Crafts 2 is an extension of the existing Arts and Crafts 1.

"It's that progression that helps them see, maybe get them interested and maybe pursuing something further," he said. "The pottery is something we've never really done, but we believe, again, this is one of those classes that we do have kids that are just really hands-on kids, love to do the hands work and this directs them toward that, they know what they are getting into."

Norman also provided an area report of the high school and had two members of faculty describe what they see from their perspective.

Havre High School English teacher and Montana Behavior Initiative representative Mandy Nitz said she does a student survey every year as part of Pony Pride, asking students questions about nine issues they rate from strongly disagree, somewhat disagree, somewhat agree and strongly agree.

The issues are:

1. Do they like school?

2. Do they feel successful at school?

3. Do they feel their school has high standards for achievement?

4. Their school sets clear rules for behavior.

5. Teachers treat them with respect.

6. The behaviors in their class allow the teachers to teach.

7. Students are frequently recognized for good behavior.

8. School is a place at which they feel safe.

9. They know an adult at school they can talk with if they need help.

"We're really happy to see No. 5 as our highest as a staff. It says what I see every day and I'm proud to be a teacher at Havre High because I think that is true," she said. "As a staff, we are also looking at number seven because that's our lowest."

  She said the Montana Behavior Initiative plans to give the survey out again before the school year is up to see if the numbers stay the same, if they move and why do they move.

Havre High School Special Education Teacher Rachel Haug said another piece to the Montana Behavior Initiative is Unified Champion Schools and Havre High is one of those.

"We work to provide social inclusion for all students through specifically designed activities and really fosters that school climate of acceptance of all and really helps students with disabilities feel welcome," she said. "They are routinely included in activities, opportunities with functions and other things."

Havre High participates in a "Welcome Wednesday" where all students can come into the special education classroom to eat lunch with the other students, bring games, sports and other activities.

The next special school board meeting will be Tuesday, March 24, at 12:15 p.m. at Robins School Administration Building. The next regular board meeting will be Tuesday, April 14, at 6:30 p.m. at Havre Middle School.

Havre Daily News/Jack Lambert

Principal of Havre High School Ed Norman proposes creating five new elective classes Tuesday during a Havre School Board of Trustees meeting in the assembly room at Havre Middle School.


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