October 2, 2017
It has been a busy and productive start to the 2017-2018 school year here at the OPI as we work serve local school districts and put Montana students first! We started the school year out with some challenges as some of our schools across the state faced emergency school closures. The OPI has resources to assist in the event that an emergency school closure must take place.
Below are some of the major highlights of what we have been working on:
Thank you to everyone who contributed to Montana’s ESSA state plan! The OPI submitted the plan to the U.S. Department of Education for peer review on September 14th. We expect to have feedback within 4-6 weeks. After peer review, the OPI will consult with education partners. The OPI then has 15 days to negotiate final edits to the plan with the Department.
I hope that you have found the OPI’s new website to be a positive resource. If you have any feedback or questions as you use the new website, please reach out to Dylan Klapmeier. It is important to note that previously saved links to the OPI’s website will no longer be active and some information previously stored on OPI’s website is now archived. If you are having trouble finding resources, please reach out.
Thank you to those who participated in the OPI Data Use Conference! The OPI’s Data Warehouse website is an important resource for making data driven decisions in the classroom. We will continue expanding our data resources and hope that you will continue to promote a culture of data use in your schools and classrooms.
The Governor’s Budget Office has asked the OPI to prepare for a 9.57% budget reduction. The OPI had previously provided a plan for a 10% reduction in accordance with statute: http://leg.mt.gov/bills/mca/17/7/17-7-140.htm. The Legislative Finance Committee will meet on October 4th and 5th to make recommendations to the Governor. After this process, the OPI will have definitive budget direction that will be shared with districts. It is important to note that Base Aid and Special Education funding to local districts are exempt from the proposed budget reductions.
Teacher of the Year
The OPI and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) met with over 20 educators, administrators, education advocacy groups, and other Montana organizations in September to discuss the Montana Teacher of the Year Program which the OPI will now administer. It is the priority of the OPI to elevate the Teacher of the Year position. We will continue to update you and seek input as the program is developed beginning for the 2019 Montana Teacher of the Year. We want to honor the Montana Professional Teaching Foundation and thank them for their work these past 22 years as they led the program. As a teacher of 23 years, I feel strongly that this important program should be housed at the lead state education agency
A panel of education and community leaders met in September to begin establishing state-specific performance levels for the ACT, per federal requirements. The OPI will continue to update you as the process develops.
In September, we recognized Constitution Week and American Indian Heritage Day. Thank you to those schools who held programs to promote our proud heritage as Americans and Montanans.
I look forward to continued collaboration between the OPI and our many education stakeholders and community leaders as we all work to put Montana students!