Budget cuts take toll on school organizations

Special to the News-Argus

Members of the Hobson Chapter of BPA are (standing from left) Reba Watson, Dakota Auck, Allison Wertheimer, Isabella Travis-Long, Zackary Thomas, Sami Connerton, Reed Hammontree, Delani Kriskovich, Elizabeth Hickey, Alyssa Thomas, Conor Loose, Josi Kriskovich, Advisor Misty Kriskovich, (sitting from left) Chloe Derks, Beau Drivdahl, Morgan Wertheimer and Kristen Vincent.

Photo courtesy of Nancy McDonald, Ubet Photography




The Hobson Chapter of Business Professionals of America is holding their Fourth Annual Holiday Mall on Nov. 19 at the Hobson School. The event is one the Chapter’s advisor, Misty Kriskovich, was hoping to eliminate this year because “Our kids are always selling something.”

Unfortunately, when Kriskovich looked into dispensing with the mall, she was hit with some hard and difficult facts. These facts are linked to the budget problems the State of Montana is facing.

According to an email addressed to Kriskovich and Hobson School Clerk Sherri Bergstrom from Business Education Specialist Eric Swenson of the Montana Office of Public Instruction, who is also in charge of career, technical and adult education, $2 million in funding was allocated during the academic years of 2015-2016 and 2016-2017. This year (2017-2018), however, because of the statewide budget cuts due to a budget crisis, only $990,000 was allocated.

Kriskovich said when she first started as advisor for the Hobson BPA three years ago, the organization received $3,000 from CTE funds. This year they have been awarded $695.

“We will be relying on our fundraising efforts to get us to State this year,” she said.

Of the monies received this year, Kriskovich said $396 has already been used to pay BPA memberships.

The Region 3 Regional Leadership Conference is annually held in Great Falls on Martin Luther King Day. Kriskovich was uncertain whether the cost of registration for regionals would increase or not, but last year registration was $15 per member. Seventeen members will attend this year. 

The Hobson School District provides the bus and bus driver for the trip to Great Falls, but the school does not budget monies for BPA. Kriskovich noted last year the Chapter shared a bus with Moore to help with expenses.

With the loss of CTE funds, the students will need to rely on their fund-raising efforts to get them to State. They will need to raise over $2,000 for this conference.


Holiday Mall part of the solution

Some BPA students will bring in baked goods, craft items and garage sale items to sell in order to add funds to their individual accounts. Occasionally, students will work the booths for the vendors who are unable to be at the mall but want to support the group.

BPA students will be easy to spot; they will be the ones wearing antlers or Santa hats and Christmas sweaters.

In addition to vendors, the mall will include silent auctions and door prizes. Lunch and refreshments will be available as well. Chantelle Thomas is in charge of the lunch and Kriskovich thought she would probably be offering walking tacos and desserts.

“We’re also trying to benefit some local businesses, artisans and other school organizations,” Kriskovich said.

She has suggested the music students set up a booth to sell their fruit and the choir students sell their coffee. 

“And we really need to get shoppers there,” she added.

The mall will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 19. It will provide a wonderful venue for some early Christmas shopping while at the same time helping a very hardworking group of students to take their business skills to the state level.


What happens after State?

The National Leadership Conference is the next step for BPA competitors. CTE funds have never paid for this competition level, but qualifying members of the Hobson Chapter have participated under Kriskovich, traveling to Boston a couple of years ago and to Orlando last year. This year nationals are in Dallas and, of course, the students want to go if they qualify in their events. A down payment is due by April 1.

“By the time we find out who has qualified [in March],” Kriskovich said, “we have just a short time period before the down payment for nationals is due.”

She figures about $1,500 per student for this trip, which pays for the flight, registration and hotel. She applies for funds from the Hobson Endowment Fund and has applied to the Hobson Boosters.

Kriskovich is up front with her students, letting them know they need to begin working early on coming up with money for nationals. She visits with parents, getting an idea of the help they can give their student should he/she come up short.

 “This is the stuff that’s going to help students,” she added. “I know there are some people who don’t think they should be going to these conferences. All I can say is ‘Come; see what it’s like. See these motivational speakers. These kids are moved; they’re engaged and they’re involved. They’re listening and they’re learning.’ It’s amazing! And this is why I’m so sad there isn’t more funding for this sort of thing.”



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