November 1, 2017
Hello Montana parents, students, educators, and community members,
I want to provide you with an update on some of the most important issues and events in Montana education that my office is working on, including the state budget, Montana's state plan for the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, and other education initiatives.
I presented the OPI’s proposed budget reductions to the Legislative Finance Committee on October 4th. The Governor requested a 9.57% reduction to the Education budget. There are two programs in the Education budget: Program 6, which is state-level activities at the OPI and Program 9, which is distribution to schools. While I have found savings at the OPI for the 9.57% reduction, most of the direct funding to schools is tied to statute and cannot be reduced. Of the entire Program 9 budget, only the $500,000 Gifted and Talented budget is eligible for a reduction of 9.57%. Therefore, I have reluctantly offered that $50,000 reduction. The Governor has not yet called for these reductions to be enacted and a special session has not yet been called. The OPI will continue to update the public on any fiscal impacts to education in Montana.
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 have a phone conversation and receive written feedback from them this month. We will continue to update you throughout this process and you can find up-to-date information here.
Events and Initiatives in Montana Education:
Construction Week- I joined with the Montana Contractors’ Association and East Helena Schools on October 5th to promote careers in Montana’s construction industry. Future events are being scheduled across Montana.
iGraduate- On October 10th, the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, the Washington Foundation, the OPI, and the Department of Labor and Industry announced the iGraduate partnership to boost college and career readiness.
Educator Conferences- I spoke to teachers in Poplar, Sidney, and Glendive while other OPI staff presented at educator conferences in Missoula, Billings, and Fairmont on October 19th and 20th.
Red Ribbon Week- Attorney General Fox and I encouraged students to stay drug-free and make healthy choices during Red Ribbon Week on October 23rd. I also spoke with students in Shelby and Conrad about the importance of staying drug-free.