By Tim Leeds
The Havre Public School Board of Trustees heard input on athletic review for the school system at their regularly scheduled meeting last night, and afterwards Jim Heberly, the newly elected chair of the board, directed Superintendent Kirk Miller to put the issue on the agenda for their June 13 meeting as an action item.
Several members of the audience spoke in favor of bringing boys' cross country back to Havre High School. Ron Watson, member of the task force for athletic review, said they have nine boys committed to participating in the sport if it is added this year.
Watson discussed the five options the task force presented, which are to add boy's cross country, to add boys' cross country and girls' fastpitch softball, to use club sponsorship for boys' cross country, to transfer students interested in the sport to KG High School to participate in their boy's cross country program, or to try to have girls' cheerleading recognized as a sport to allow adding another boys' activity.
A major concern is that under the Ridgeway Agreement, which governs the Montana High School Association in this matter, there must be equity in the number of boys' and girls' activities offered. In order to comply with the Ridgeway Agreement, if a new boys' activity is offered at HHS, a new girls' activity must be offered as well.
Kristi Kline, president of the Girls' Softball Association, said so many people are interested in their slowpitch program they have to turn some away once the teams are full. She said there is a growing interest and participation in the state for girls' fastpitch, and they are investigating the possibility of starting the activity in Havre.
Debbie Rhines, the president of the Youth Soccer Association, said they do not have enough strength to support a high school girls' soccer team at this time. She said they wish to review the question again in the near future, when a high school team might be possible.
In other action, the board approved the I-STAND proposal presented by Karla Wohlwend, special services director for the district, and Bob Peake, chief juvenile probation officer for the 12th Judicial District Youth Court.
Wohlwend said there is a direct correlation between academic failure and delinquency, and the I-STAND program will help to address this problem.
Under I-STAND, Peake's office will hire a secondary level teacher with a P-12 special education endorsement and a teaching assistant to work with students involved in the juvenile justice system whose behavioral problems are impeding their ability to learn. The funds for the staff will be out of projected savings from the Pilot Project funds, where savings from out-of-home student placement are reimbursed to his office.
Peake said that as well as better helping the students educationally and better reducing delinquency, there will be significant savings over out-of-home placement. He said sending five students to out-of-home placement due to educational needs costs more than $9,000 a month.
The board also approved a recommendation to hire a coordinator for the Title I program for the district. Assistant Superintendent Dennis Parman told the board that under the present program, student contact hours for tutoring in reading and mathematics would probably decrease 30 percent over the next five years.
Parman said by hiring a coordinator to work with students and to train and continually improve the tutors' abilities to deliver effective reading instruction, the amount of student contact hours should increase. He said there will probably be a temporary dip in effective service while the new organization is put into effect, but it should quickly improve.