Superintendent's Update

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 I have been working on in September.


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 last week! 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.

State Budget

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: 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 first this school year!

Elsie Arntzen

State Superintendent

For more information, contact Dylan Klapmeier, 406-444-3559


Information Technology Services 

Website Tips & Reminders

The new OPI website has been live for a month and content is being added each day with the goal of providing timely, useful information in an accessible way.

Since the site is new, here are a few reminders/tips:

  • Chrome is the recommended browser for using the site. Others will work, but Chrome will give you the best experience.
  • Any hyperlinks you had bookmarked from the old site will not work. With the exception of the homepage, other page urls have changed so you will need to update them on your end. This includes any you've personally saved in your browser, as well as any direct links from  your school or other site. Help Updating Bookmarks
  • The website search function is a good resource if you are unable to locate what you're looking for from the homepage or menus. If you are still unable to locate the information you need, feel free to reach out to program staff for guidance.
  • And finally, if you notice a functional issue please feel free to email the OPI Help Desk.

We hope that you find the new website more accessible and usable and we thank you for your patience with this big change!

For more information, contact Tara Steinke, 406-444-4607


Measurement and Accountability

AIM Announcements October, 2017

Upcoming AIM Data Collections:

AIM Links:

For more information, contact Candis Standall, 406-444-3495



Professional development activities

This month the assessment division launched the Data and Assessment Professional Learning Community through the Teacher Learning Hub.  This PLC takes place the last Wednesday of each month, except December.  For more information on the Data and Assessment PLC visit the Teacher Learning Hub.  There are two participation options: 1. Participate in live webinars and discussions, 2. View a recording of the live webinar and participate in an online discussion forum.

The September Assessment Newsletter covers timely topics in statewide assessment. Each assessment newsletter is accompanied by a live webinar on the second Tuesday of each month.  A calendar of webinars and webinar recordings are available to view on the OPI website.  

ACT standards validation and performance level descriptor panel

This month a panel of 23 stakeholders representing instructional specialists, administrators, higher education, and parents met for two days to validate standards and performance level descriptors for the grade 11 ACT in the content areas of English language arts and mathematics. 

For more information, contact Yvonne Field, 406-444-0748


Accreditation and Educator Preparation 

TEAMS Work Sessions

The OPI is happy to announce we are providing TEAMS Work Sessions once again this fall! During these sessions, participants will bring and enter their own data into the TEAMs database with face-to-face assistance from OPI staff.

To see a schedule of work sessions and register, go to

For more information, contact OPI TEAMS, 406-444-9444

TEAMS (Terms of Employment Accreditation Master Schedule)

The annual TEAMS collection opened August 15, 2017.

Use the TEAMS Security Form found on the OPI School Staffing webpage to request TEAMS user names, assign user roles, or to make changes To maintain continued data security, notify the OPI as soon as possible when user accounts are to be deactivated. The “authorized representative” is the official designation indicating the individual responsible for submitting official educational program documents and reports to the OPI. Submit only one TEAMS Security Form per educational program (i.e., district).

For more information, contact Danielle Murphy, 406-444-1625

Montana New Teacher Induction Project

The Montana Office of Public Instruction (OPI) is partnering with New Teacher Center in Sidney, Montana, on October 19-20, offering a two-day professional development opportunity for school and district-based mentors, to explore the purpose of instructional mentoring and the opportunity it provides to create equitable conditions for student learning.

This event is free to registrants. Lunch is provided each day, and renewal credits are available.

Register at

Sidney High School Library
8:30 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. each day

For more information, contact Patty Muir, 406-444-4317

Continuous School Improvement Plan

The Continuous School Improvement Plan (CSIP) and Title I applications opened August 1, 2017, for the 2017-2018 school year. The applications close and the plans are due by October 31, 2017. Both the district- and school-level Title I Improvement Planning sections have been removed from the plan.

For assistance with the CSIP, contact Patty Muir, 406-444-4317 or

For assistance with Title I Planning, contact Jack O’Connor, 406-444-3083

For more information, contact Heather Denny, 406-444-2036


Career Technical and Adult Education

U.S. Presidential Scholars Program

The U.S. Presidential Scholars Program was established in 1964, by executive order of the President, to recognize and honor some of our nation's most distinguished graduating high school seniors. In 1979, the program was extended to recognize students who demonstrate exceptional talent in the visual, creative and performing arts. In 2015, the program was again extended to recognize students who demonstrate ability and accomplishment in career and technical education fields. Each year, up to 161 students are named as Presidential Scholars, one of the nation's highest honors for high school students.

For more information on the U.S. Presidential Scholars Program please visit

For more information, contact Christy Hendricks, 406-444-9019

Fall 2017 CTE Data Collection Begins

The Fall 2017 CTE Data Collection begins on October 1 and ends December 31, 2017.  The Fall CTE Data Collection is a follow up to last year's Spring CTE Data Collection.  Students identified as CTE Concentrators last year (2016-2017) and graduated in the spring of 2017 should be contacted between October 1 and December 31 and asked their current post-graduation status. After contact, the appropriate post-graduation status code must be entered into the AIM/Infinite Campus data system for each CTE Concentrator.  All high schools that received funding from the Carl D. Perkins federal grant program in 2016-2017 are required to complete this fall follow up collection to maintain their eligibility to receive Perkins funding.

Instructions for completing the Fall CTE Data Collection--called the 'Quick Reference Guide' for the Fall CTE Data Collection--are located in two places on the OPI website:  on the AIM web page under the AIM User Guides button and also on the CTE web page under the 'Data Collections' button.  

PLEASE NOTE:  Be sure to verify the list of CTE Concentrators from what your district submitted last spring.  Any additions, corrections, or changes to the list of CTE Concentrators must be made no later than November 15, 2017, to be accurately reflected in federal reporting and used to compute Perkins Performance Indicators for your school.  

Technical AIM questions regarding the Fall CTE Data Collection should be directed to the AIM Helpdesk at 1.877.424.6881 (toll-free) or email  Questions regarding the Carl D. Perkins federal grant program data requirements should be directed to Christy Hendricks, CTE/Perkins Data Control Specialist at 406.444.9019 or email    

For more information, contact Christy Hendricks, 406-444-9019

2017-2018 Perkins Grant Approval Reminder

The CTE Division of the OPI reminds all districts intending to submit a 2017-2018 Perkins grant application to please obtain final OPI approval of your initial Perkins application through the E-Grants system no later than Tuesday, October 31, 2017.

Only the initial/original application is subject to this deadline.  Amendments to your approved Perkins application can occur after the October date.  If you have questions regarding the status of your Perkins grant application, please contact any of the following CTE Division staff:

Shannon Boswell —phone: 406.444.4451; email:

Renee Erlandsen—phone: 406.994.6986; email:

Christy Hendricks—phone: 406.444.9019; email:

Don Michalsky—phone: 406.444.4452; email:

Eric Swenson—phone: 406.444.7991; email:

Megan Vincent—phone: 406.444.3599; email:

For more information, contact Christy Hendricks, 406-444-9019


Content Standards and Instruction

K-12 Content Standards Documents and Revision Schedule Information

Fall is definitely a time for new beginnings!  The new OPI website has many improved features but we recognize that it will take a while before everyone is familiar with it.  With that in mind, here are direct links to the K-12 Content Standards documents:


Visit the K-12 Content Standards and Revision Page.


Please note that we are still in the process of updating all documents to ensure that they meet accessibility requirements.  Check back over the next couple of weeks as we post a variety of K-12 and grade level documents for the Arts, English Language Arts/Literacy, Mathematics, and Science standards, as well as newly formatted documents for other content standards.


If you can't find what you need, please email the CSI team and we'll be happy to help you find what you need.   You can also join our weekly 3 Big Ideas newsletter to get the latest and greatest in #EduInfo!

For more information, contact Colet Bartow, 406-444-3583


Educational Opportunity and Equity Division

2018 OPI Title I Conference Presenters Needed

The Title I Unit needs presenters for the 2018 Title I Conference which will be held in Helena, MT, March 28-29, 2018.  Sessions are needed for all grade levels in all subject areas.  Accepted presenters receive two free nights at the conference hotel and a paid registration to the conference which includes two breakfasts and two lunches.

For more information, contact Shawna Pieske, 406-444-5660

2017-18 Egrant Consolidated Applications

2017-18 Egrant Consolidated Applications for those districts which are receiving Title I, II, III, IV, and/or V funds must have been opened/created an application no later than September 15, 2017.  Districts must also have an approved 2017-18 Egrant Consolidated Application no later than October 31, 2017.  Districts that do not meet the deadlines will not be able to open/create (after September 15), nor submit (after October 31) without approval from Tim Tharp, Deputy Superintendent. The letter to request to open/create or submit a late application must come from the district's board chairperson.

For more information, contact Shawna Pieske, 406-444-5660

2017-18 Schoolwide Plan Update

Districts with schools operating a schoolwide program should have updated those plans no later than July 31, 2017.  The schoolwide plans are located under the Continuous School Improvement Plan (CSIP) which can be accessed on the OPI website at:  The plans are at the school level, and a plan must be completed for each school in the district operating a schoolwide program.  Use the first day of school for SY17-18 as the start date, and make sure to select REVISED for the plan status.  The OPI will not be able to approve 2017-18 Egrant Consolidated Applications until all schools in a district that are operating a schoolwide plan have completed the update.

For more information, contact Shawna Pieske, 406-444-5660


Health Enhancement and Safety

Celebrate Montana Teen Driver Safety Day - October 17

Montana Teen Driver Safety Day is the third Tuesday in October during National Teen Driver Safety Week. Proclaimed by the Montana State Legislature in 2009 at the urging of students from Belt High School, its mission is to bring Montana teens, community leaders, educators, and parents together to prevent young driver crashes, the leading cause of death for teens.

If you have a FCCLA chapter at your school, think about applying for a Vision Zero traffic safety grant. Grants up to $1,750 are available through FCCLA and applications are due November 1. The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), Ford Driving Skills, and Montana Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) are promoting traffic safety by awarding grants to school chapters who plan and carry out projects that help them and their peers make informed, responsible driving decisions.

For more ideas and resources, visit the OPI's Driver Education webpage to download a 2017 Teen Driver Safety Day flyer.

For more information, contact Patti Borneman, 406-444-4432

OPI Learning Hub is now offering: At-Risk: Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Today's students face increasing pressures that can lead to emotional distress, depression, anxiety, and even thoughts of suicide.  As educators and key partners, we can take small steps to make a big difference.  The Montana Office of Public Instruction Teacher Learning Hub has adopted the Kognito At-Risk trio of online role-play simulations to help us learn to recognize the signs of distress, use conversations to approach a student and discuss our concerns, and, if necessary, refer parents/students to the appropriate resources.  This is being provided to the OPI Learning Hub through the Project AWARE-MT SOARS grant funding.  The project is a 12-month unlimited license contract with Kognito Interactive Programs.   Please take advantage!

For more information, contact Holly Mook, 406-444-0773

School Health Grants Available

$500 to $1,500 grants to improve health and wellness throughout a school or district are available from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).  Applicants can select from one of six topics of interest or they can design their own project related to any chronic health issue in their school or district.  Twelve grants are available during the 2017-18 academic year and will be awarded on a first come first serve basis.  More information and the application are found at School Health Grants or by contacting BJ Biskupiak, DPHHS School Health Program Coordinator.

For more information, contact BJ Biskupiak, 406-444-0995 


School Finance


Salary and Compensation Expenditure Report 

MAEFAIRS is currently available for the salary and compensation expenditure reporting.  The Salary and Compensation Expenditure Report requires that all employees who received a paycheck during 2016-17 fiscal year be entered into the district's 2016-2017 TOE data.  For many districts, the 2016-17 TOE did not include employees hired after the TEAMS application was closed.  The missing employees can be entered into the compensation expenditure TOE screen in TEAMS.  The Compensation Expenditure Report is due January 5, 2018.

For TEAMS/TOE information, contact Danielle Murphy, (406) 444-1625,

For MAEFAIRS information, contact Mari Haefka, (406) 444-1960,

For more information, contact Danielle Murphy, (406) 444-1625

Fall Student Count for ANB

The official fall count day is Monday, October 2, 2017.  MAEFAIRS Student Count for ANB must be submitted no later than October 13, 2017.

The following resources are located on the OPI website:

Extenuating circumstances for students who will be gone 10 days prior to the count date, but which would support a variance should be submitted to the OPI prior to the official enrollment count date for consideration of inclusion of the student in the enrollment count for ANB purposes beyond the 10th day of absence.


  • For MAEFAIRS questions, or to correct data once it has been submitted, please contact Nica Merala at (406) 444-4401 or
  • For AIM questions, including how to correct student information in order to be included in the MAEFAIRS Student Count for ANB, please contact the AIM Helpdesk at 1-877-424-6681, or locally at (406) 444-3800 or

Reporting American Indian Students

Students identified as American Indian in the AIM system at the time the data is imported into the MAEFAIRS fall count will generate funding for the Student Achievement Gap (SAG) payment in the ensuing year.

School district business managers/clerks should verify that the Students Imported From AIM In SAG Report located in the MAEFAIRS application accurately reports the number of American Indian students enrolled in the district. If the report is not correct, please contact Nica Merala at (406) 444-4401 or to make the necessary changes.

Pursuant to ARM 10.21.205, changes to this designation will not be accepted after December 31.

For more information, contact Nica Merala, 406-444-4401

Bus Standards Revision Update with HB 355 

On August 9, 2017 the bus standards workgroup met to discuss the revision of  the Montana School Bus Standards in order to implement the changes included in HB 355 of the 2017 Legislative Session. When completed, the bus standards will include a new type of school bus which will be considered as a Type E.

This new vehicle Type E must be 10 or fewer passengers including the driver, may be used for the transportation of students to and from school, and will allow school districts to receive state and county transportation reimbursement at $0.50 per mile.  The effective date is scheduled for July 1, 2018.

The first draft revisions are made and expected to be submitted to the Board of Public Education sometime in November 2017. Once these standards are approved by the workgroup and ready to be presented to the Board of Public Education, the OPI will post the proposed revision on the OPI Pupil Transportation website for review.

For questions or concerns regarding the proposed standards, you may contact Kara Sperle at (406) 444-3249 or email or Donell Rosenthal at (406) 444-3024 or email .

For more information, contact Donell Rosenthal, 406-444-3024

Individual Contracts (TR-4)

By October 1, the county superintendent must electronically acknowledge receipt of all individual transportation contracts and electronically authorize individual transportation contracts for which the County Transportation Committee (CTC) has approved increased payments due to isolation.

For more information, contact Donell Rosenthal, 406-444-3024

Changes to the FY 17 Trustees Financial Summary

If you find a material coding error on your FY 17 Trustees Financial Summary (TFS), please submit a revision to Mari Haefka or Nicole Thuotte in the School Finance Division.  As provided in ARM 10.10.504(6), changes to the FY 17 TFS are limited to:

  • Coding revisions between revenue and expenditure line items, provided no change occurs in the fund balance of the budgeted funds; or
  • Revisions in the balance sheet accounts, provided no change occurs in the fund balance of the budgeted funds.

The Office of Public Instruction cannot process TFS changes that affect the fund balance in budgeted funds because fund balance is carried forward to the FY 18 budget, and a change in fund balance may impact the number of mills already levied in the fund.

Revisions should be submitted as follows:

  • Photocopy the original page of the TFS, with amounts to be revised crossed out and the correct amount written in.
  • When sending balance sheet revisions, please send any expenditure and revenue line item changes that correlate with the revisions.  The fund balance on the balance sheet should equal the ending fund balance shown on the Statement of Changes in District Fund Balance report after the revisions are made.
  • Change any sub-totals and totals that will be affected.
  • Sign any sheets that contain a revision.
  • Scan and email revisions to, fax revsions to (406) 444-0509, or mail revisions to School Finance at PO Box 202501, Helena, MT, 59620-2501.

The deadline for submitting revisions is December 10.  However, December 10 falls on a Sunday, so revisions will be accepted through Monday, December 11. 

Immaterial line item coding changes that affect fund balance in the budgeted funds for FY 17 must be reported as a prior period adjustment on the TFS for FY 18.  The district may need to adopt a budget amendment for the current year to record a prior period expenditure adjustment in a budgeted fund.

For more information, contact Mari Haefka, (406) 444-1960