The Office of Public Instruction is one of Montana's five constitutionally recognized offices headed by a statewide elected official. Every four years, Montanans elect a Superintendent of Public Instruction to manage the OPI. The OPI serves as Montana's state education agency. Montana is a 'local control in education state' so much of the decision-making in education happens in our state's over 400 local school districts by a locally elected board of trustees. The OPI exists to serve students, parents, and local schools.
There are 11 divisions within the OPI:
The purpose of the Content Standards and Instruction (CSI) Division is to facilitate revision and implementation of Montana’s content standards through high quality professional development and resources for educators to ensure that all Montana children are prepared for college, career, and life-long learning. Montana's content standards guide the development of curriculum at the local level. Content standards are periodically revised to ensure that Montana students are receiving a modern and relevant education.
The Health Enhancement and Safety Division manages programs under three Units. Coordinated School Health, School Nutrition, and Traffic Education. The Coordinated School Health Unit manages programs that support Project Aware, a Suicide Prevention program, Emergency Planning, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, School Health Profiles, 21st Century Learning Center Afterschool programs and the Tobacco Use Prevention program. This unit manages many partnerships in its work with schools across the state, non-profit organizations, and state and federal agencies. School Nutrition manages eight Department of Agriculture (USDA) child nutrition programs. The unit reimburses schools to distribute USDA foods for meals served to children, provide teacher workshops, and ensure proper implementation of federal regulations while providing nutrition education for students, The Traffic Education program supports schools in providing guidance on traffic education and advanced drivers education. Traffic Education supports high school driver education programs with curriculum and teacher preparation standards. The program provides information, resources and technical assistance to school districts, families, program managers and traffic education teachers. The Montana DRIVE summer workshops held in Lewistown, MT, help adult and teen drivers practice techniques for managing and avoiding risky driving situations.
The OPI’s Data and Technology Division operates two bureaus, the Data Collection and Reporting Bureau and the IT Operations Bureau. It also operates four program offices: the School Computer Equipment Program, Digital Communications Program Office, Project Management Office and Privacy and Security Office. The Division's primary focuse is to provide accurate, timely and complete reports and data to the general public, families and students, schools and districts, the Legislature, other agencies, the U.S. Dept. of Education, educational organizations, researchers, and the media. The Division has a leadership role in promoting a culture of data quality and data use at the Office of Public Instruction and in schools and districts. Division staff develop agency policies and establish procedures for collecting data from schools and districts in an efficient, effective, and timely manner. Division staff also perform research and analysis to assure that the appropriate data/information is used in an appropriate way and to answer the educational questions and research that users are pursuing.
The Data and Technology Division provides the IT services and support necessary for the OPI to provide services that are used by OPI staff, districts, schools, educators, families and students. Services provided by the Division include IT and data security, systems development, IT help desk for OPI applications and data collection systems, data analysis, database management, computer networking and server administration, computer desktop support, information storage, video recording and production, web development and digital communications services. The Division manages all agency IT hardware and software, provides security for and backup for all OPI data management systems, and provides technical assistance to OPI users and school districts using OPI's various data management and collection systems. The Division also operates the Computers for Schools program (MCA 18-6-101) that distributes surplus computer equipment from all state agencies for use in schools and classrooms.
The Division of Career, Technical and Adult Education provides professional development, technical assistance and program expertise to instructors and administrators for Adult Basic and Literacy Education (ABLE), Career and Technical Education (CTE), High School Equivalency (HSE), and Veteran's Education/State Approving Agency (SAA).
The Accreditation and Educator Preparation Division ensures accountability with state school accreditation requirements. The Division provides evidence of effectiveness and student performance through data collection, analysis and reporting, and promotes educator growth through reflective practice by delivering professional learning and technical assistance.
The Educational Opportunity and Equity Division provides school support to ensure that all Montana students are receiving a quality public education. They oversee many of the federal Title programs which assist at-risk students and schools with school improvement efforts.
The Indian Education Division is composed of the Indian Education for All Unit and the Indian Student Achievement Unit. The goal of the Division is to assist in the successful implementation of the Indian Education for All Act (MCA 20-1-501) and to work to close the achievement gap for American Indian students in Montana. Implementation of Indian Education for All is achieved through professional development, grants to local schools, funding to regional education providers and other partners, and through the development and publication of materials and resources for K-12 public schools.
The Student Support Services Division includes Special Education, Gifted and Talented Education, and Early Childhood Education. It has responsibility for assuring that all children receive a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. Division staff provide training, technical assistance and monitor special education services provided by public schools and state-operated programs. The Division is also responsible for managing the flow of state and federal dollars for special education programs.
School Finance is responsible for all aspects of state entitlement funding to districts in compliance with the formulas set by law. This includes state distribution to schools, accounting and financial reporting, budget, training and technical assistance, legislative and federal fiscal reporting, audit monitoring, federal Impact Aid, enrollment, tuition, and pupil transportation.
The Human Resources Division has the responsibility of covering the development and maintenance of employment policies, procedures and the provision for a range of services to managers and individual staff members. Some of these services include recruitment and selection, and personnel administration.
The Centralized Services Division provides accounting, budgeting, payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable, cash management, financial reporting, purchasing, mail, receptionist and word processing services to other OPI divisions. This division is also responsible for the distribution and fiscal monitoring of state and federal grant programs administered by the OPI to local education agencies.
The Legal Division of the Montana Office of Public Instruction provides legal services to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and the agency. Please note that the Legal Division does not provide legal services to the general public. The Legal Division also includes educator licensure.