April 13, 2015
Issue No: 



Spring brings new baby calves on my husband’s ranch just as it brings testing to GFPS. Both have happened for as long as I can remember. As a young child, I looked forward to calving season on my parent’s ranch, and as a GFPS student, I looked forward to taking the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS). As a GFPS teacher and later as a principal I looked forward to giving the ITBS and CRT. Unfortunately, while ranching continues to be a noble endeavor, annual student testing has come under attack. In yesterday’s paper, there was even a paid ad implying that parents shouldn’t have their kids tested by the modern day version of spring testing: the Smarter Balance or SBAC test.

As I said back when No Child Left Behind was enacted in 2001, I do not fear accountability. Annual testing lets us know as a district if our curriculum is working; it lets parents know if their student is learning; it lets teachers know how his/her class is performing. On the ranch, we don’t fear accountability either. The annual weighing of the calves in the fall as we prepare for sale tells us how we are doing as ranchers…is our breeding program working; are we keeping our mother cows healthy so they have nice-sized calves; does our nutrition program fatten the calves appropriately?

Critics of annual “governmental testing” say it must go. I disagree. We assess student learning regularly, but we don’t overdo it. We monitor learning through formative and summative techniques to make sure students are learning. On the ranch, we don’t weigh our calves every day, but we do check on them regularly to make sure they are growing. We look forward to the test, the weight at sale, because it confirms our ranching knowledge and work. The ITBS, CRT and now SBAC have done and will do the same thing: confirm our educational processes and work. To not have a way to measure our work to ensure what we are doing works would be ridiculous in both ranching and education. We would never get better.

So no, you can’t fatten a calf by weighing it, but weigh it you must. The weight gives information which the rancher analyzes so he can adjust. As a District, we do the same thing with the information we receive from testing. The SBAC shouldn’t be the only information we use as it alone can’t define educational quality, but use it we must.

This year, I anticipate the data we receive from the new SBAC test will indicate that fewer students are proficient or above as compared with the CRT data from the past. It doesn’t mean that our kids have learned less or that our educational processes aren’t working. It’s a new and different kind of test based on new and different curricula. Our analysis of SBAC and all the other ways we measure progress, will give us good information as we seek continuous improvement. Just like I look forward to watching our calves grow and finally be weighed in the fall, I have marveled at student success throughout this school year and I look forward to finding out how we’ve done on SBAC. As always, I am confident that GFPS students and staff will have done their best when put to the test.

Take care. Stay safe. Be well.

Fight Childhood Hunger Week April 13-19, 2015


Purple Up Day for Our Military Kids!

Serenity in the StormJason DeShaw

District 6 Music Festival

What: District 6 Music Festival
When: April 16-17, 2015
Free to the Public!

Details: The MHSA District 6 Music Festival will be held April 16-17, 2015 in various locations in Great Falls.

Thursday April 16, 8-5 pm: Bands and Choirs from Augusta, Belt, Cascade, Centerville, Choteau, Conrad, Dutton/Brady, Fairfield, Ft. Benton, Great Falls Central, Highwood, Power, Simms will be performing at the UGF Theater (bands) and the UGF Chapel (choirs).

From 1-8 pm Bands, Orchestras, and Choirs will be performing from GFHS and CM Russell High school in the GFHS Auditorium (Bands/Orchestras) and the Old Gym (Choirs).

Friday April 17 , 1-9 pm: Solos and Ensembles from band, orchestra, and vocal students from all the schools will be performing at CM Russell High school.

All performances are free and open to the public!

Call the GFPS Music and Art Department at 268-6079 for more information.

Employee Wellness Update:

ZUMBA Class at Longfellow
Zumba will be canceled Thursday, April 23, 2015


Aquatic Exercise

Aquatic Exercise

Aquatic Exercise at Great Falls High School Pool starting April 7 thru June 4th from 7pm – 8pm, Tuesdays and Thursdays. To sign up please email or call Kim Fadrhonc at kim_fadrhonc [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us or 268-6051.


Sign up for PIR Classes Now Open

 The PIR catalog of classes is now online. Please sign up for at least 18 hours of classes (unless part time), and don't forget to enroll in the appropriate District-Directed course, based on the letter you received as well as 1st, 2nd or 3rd-Year Teacher Training if applicable.

In addition, be sure to sign up for MEA, MIET or other conference if you think you might attend those. Classes with low enrollment will be cancelled May 6, so sign up soon.

Click here to log in

Click here for help on using PIR eCentral




Teacher time sheets are due in the Business Office the morning of Monday, April 13th. Please e-mail your absences to BoPayrollLead [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us each day through April 20th. If you know in advance a teacher is going to be gone, please mark it on the time sheet rather than waiting to email. Teachers who use time cards should also turn them in at this time.

All other time cards are due in the Business Office the morning of Thursday, April 23rd.

Substitute teacher time sheets are due by the 2nd of each month.

All time cards are due on the above dates. Do not put them in the school mail any later, as it will be impossible to pay them on this pay period. All time cards must be signed by the employee before pay checks will be released.

All federal time cards are due to federal programs office two days before the dates listed above.

Secretaries, please review your time card check-off list and be sure all employees have turned in their time cards.


Any employee terminating their employment with the district must send their timecard to the business office immediately upon termination (DO NOT wait for the end of the pay period). If the employee will be terminating shortly after the end of the pay period those days can be added to the current time card.



Fall Print and Graphic Orders 2015-2016 School Year

All Fall orders need to be titled as "Fall" for the due date. That is for both the Print Center orders and Graphic orders.
Graphic orders for the 2015-2016 school year that must be created need to be submitted no later than June 30th. Any submissions beyond then may not be returned until approximately early October. Please try to prepare for the new school year early so we can get your orders done on time.
Fall Print orders CAN NOT be submitted electronically. With having such a high volume of orders for the fall, we do not want to risk any orders being lost in the system. Please send all fall orders as you would in the past.
Please feel free to give Central Reception a call with any questions or concerns.


Retirement and Longevity Awards

Retirement and Longevity Awards
Wednesday, May 20, 2015 7pm
Paris Gibson Education Center

All employees who have served the District 25, 30, or 35 years will be honored as well as those employees who have retired during the 2014-2015 school year or are retiring at the end of the school year.

Honorees will be sent an invitation via letter in April. If you do not receive one and you think you fall in the categories noted above, please contact Kim Fadrhonc at 268-6051. The District will honor each recipient with a gift. Desserts and refreshments will be provided.


GFPS and Optimist Club present Rob Quist in concert

What: Benefit concert for GFPS Music and Art Department featuring Rob Quist, with Halladay Quist and Dave Griffin in concert. Sponsored by the Optimist Club of Great Falls.
Where: Great Falls High Auditorium
When: Tuesday April 28, 2015 7:30 pm
Admission: $12 General Admission tickets, advance tickets available at Kaufmans Menswear or purchase at the event.

Details: Come on out for a great evening of entertainment from legendary Montana musician Rob Quist, his daughter Hallady Quist and instrumentalist extraordinaire Dave Griffin. The Great Falls Optimist Club is sponsoring this event to continue to support having a rich fine arts program for children in Great Falls. All proceeds from the concert will go to support the Music and Art Departments of the Great Falls Public Schools. Featured guests in the concert will be middle school choir members from East and North Middle Schools, and they will be performing with Rob on stage in a song that they will write together as part of a Songwriting Masterclass that Rob will lead.

Wanted Driver Education Teachers Interested

  Wanted Driver Education Teachers   

Teachers interested in being considered for teaching Driver Education during the Summer Sessions should submit Driver Education applications to the office of Special Services and Transportation, by May 1, 2015.  Classes will start May 20, 2015 and on July 6, 2015.   Driver Education teachers must have:
1.       A valid Montana teaching certificate.
2.       A minimum of 12 quarter hours preparation, including a basic traffic education course of three q.h.
3.       A driving record free from repeated accident experience and traffic violations.
4.   A renewed approval from the Office of Public Instruction indicating             eligibility to teach driver education.
Employment is contingent on student enrollment.  Applications will be considered in the order that they are received.
The Summer Driver Education Meeting will be May 7, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. in the Board Room at the District Office Building.
Application forms are available in our office at the Transportation Office (DOB).  If you have questions, please call Lisa at extension 6082.





The Substance Abuse Prevention Alliance Adult Work Group, a local community organization, is asking for 18-24-year-old community members to complete an anonymous survey regarding substance use and abuse. The Alliance is made up of representatives from GFPS partner organizations like the Alliance for Youth, University of Great Falls, Great Falls College-MSU, Malmstrom Air Force Base, United Way, Gateway Community Services, and more. Results from the survey will be used to better understand the state of 18-24-year-olds in our community and to gain a better idea of how to target intervention and prevention strategies in Great Falls.


Respondents are entered into a drawing to win a $50 Visa gift card (survey and drawing entries are separate to maintain anonymity).


Here is a link to a recent news story:  (


Here is the link to the survey:

HiGH TRUST Level 1 & 2

The Outreach and Community Enrichment Program at GFC-MSU Needs Input

You could win a free course worth up to $165!

The Outreach and Community Enrichment Program (previously known as the GFPS Nitecap Program) is a joint project between the GFC-MSU and GFPS Adult Education. The new director, Teresa Rivenes, is working to increase enrollment and the number of course offerings in order to meet the lifelong learning needs of Great Falls and the surrounding communities. Courses are currently offered not only at GFC-MSU, but also in several of our classrooms throughout GFPS.
GFPS staff feedback is crucial to growing the program, so please take a few moments to complete a short survey at . The information you provide will help plan future offerings. Once you complete the survey, if you provide your contact information at the end of the survey, you will be entered into a drawing for a FREE Outreach/Community Education course valued at up to $165.
Teresa may be reached at: Teresa [dot] rivenes [at] gfcmsu [dot] edu, 406.771.2290 or at the Great Falls College Outreach Office.