November 29, 2017
Hello Montana parents, students, educators, and community members,
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! As the end of the year approaches, I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Here are some updates on the special session of the Montana Legislature as well as other happenings in Montana education that my office is working on.
Special Session of the Montana Legislature:
The special session of the Montana Legislature wrapped up on November 16th after one day of committee hearings and two days of floor sessions. The Legislature made permanent the Governor’s proposed budget reductions by amending appropriations in HB 2. Additionally, SB 2 removes the requirement in MCA 20-9-630 and 20-9-632 for OPI to pay schools for the school combined block grant, school transportation block grant, the county retirement block grant, and the county transportation block grant. In addition the transportation appropriation for OPI schools is reduced by $1.7 million each fiscal year of the current biennium and restricts payments to schools to the appropriation level. The block grants and the transportation payment represent the only impact to the Program 9 general fund appropriation budget (distribution to schools). Program 6 funding (state-level activities at the OPI) is being reduced by $1.7 million, which we are prepared to absorb.
Every Student Succeeds Act:
With Montana’s ESSA plan submitted, we are waiting to hear from the U.S. Department of Education on whether they would like to see changes or need any clarification. We expect to hear from the Department within the next week or two. We will continue to update you throughout this process and you can find the most current information here.
Events and Initiatives in Montana Education:
Montana Television Network did a “Face the State” special on Montana’s rural schools.
Honoring Shodair educators- I honored 2017 outstanding teachers at Shodair Children’s Hospital.
Havre CTE event- The OPI in conjunction with Havre High School, MSU Northern, Lakeside Excavation, and the Montana Contactors’ Association, hosted an event at MSU Northern’s new Diesel Mechanics Center to showcase the importance of trade career pathways for Montana students.
Additionally, I was involved with the monthly Land Board meeting, the Board of Public Education meeting, the Board of Regents meeting, and the special session of the Montana Legislature.