Newsbits
December 12, 2016
Issue No: 
15

Contents

Superintendent's Message

 SUPERINTENDENT’S MESSAGE

The Season of Giving
 
The ancient act of giving during the Christmas season is alive and well in GFPS.  Just take a look around the District and there are hundreds of examples of students and staff generously giving to those in need.  Many of our schools are conducting food and clothing drives.  Groups are preparing food and gift baskets for families who need a little boost during the holiday season.  Students and staff are ringing bells for the Salvation Army and providing gifts for giving tree tags.  Thank you for being abundantly generous to those less fortunate than ourselves during this giving season.  OUR COMMUNITY benefits greatly from this plentiful giving.  I am proud that we model and pass these giving traditions on to the next generations. 
 
Something else makes me proud and that’s the fact that I work in a profession and with professionals that practice the act of giving all year round.  Albert Camus, a French Nobel Prize winning author, journalist, and philosopher said, “Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.”  GFPS staff members practice real generosity every day of the school year.  You give your all day in and day out because you know it is essential to OUR FUTURE.
 
The GFPS annual giving campaign is another example of how we give back.  We came together as an organization to make a difference yet again.  We raised $53,919!  We were just $1081 short of our goal, but yet again, we set a new giving record!
 
Thank you!  Thank you for your generosity during this season of giving but just as importantly, thank you for giving so much to OUR KIDS, OUR COMMUNITY and OUR FUTURE all year round.  The GFPS giving season is not a season at all.  It’s just what we do day in and day out. 

 
Take care.  Be safe.  Stay well.

 
Tammy

Beware of Slips and Falls

It’s Ice Season in Montana…Beware of Slips and Falls

The weather in Great Falls, Montana can make routine snow removal a challenge. It is best to not rely upon adequate snow removal because it is not always possible. Instead, take a few simple precautions to help reduce your chances of being injured from a slip and fall accident:

                                                   

  • Select appropriate footwear.  Some materials are very slippery on snow & ice (plastic, leather, foam).You’ll get good traction with rubber soles having deep traction grips. Strap-on non-slip shoe treads are available in stores at reasonable prices.
  • Get an earlier start to your day. It takes more time to navigate winter walkways safely so it’s a good idea to leave a little earlier to get to your destination in time and injury free.
  • Once you get to your destination, take your time and walk slowly; take small steps for stability. Focus on what you are doing. Walk attentively.
  • Choose your path carefully. Avoid slippery surfaces as much as possible.
  • Keep hands free for balance and use handrails whenever possible. If you slip, you will need your arms to restore balance.
  • Keep your eyes on where you are going; walk in designated walkways as much as possible.
  • Test possible slick areas first with your toe to see how slippery it is before putting your full body weight on the area.
  • Get the snow off of the bottom of your footwear when entering buildings.
  • Take care of colleagues by spreading sand from the buckets in building doorways on slippery spots.
  • Report trouble spots to the school engineer or custodian ASAP. 
 

 

Biometric Screens and Primary Care Physicians

Taking Care of Your Health!
Have you ever wondered, why would I ever need a primary care provider?  You’re healthy, you’re young, and really you’re very, very busy. You don’t really need a primary care physician, do you?  Actually, the answer is “Yes, you do.”  Put simply, having a primary care physician can keep you healthier as you age.  There is tons of research to support this recommendation and if you’d like to read more please click on this link.  This is one reason why, as an active participant on the GFPS health plan, you can receive a monitory incentive for completing a biometric screening.  Completing a biometric screening can be done through your primary care physician or through an on-site blood draw (see below).  If you have a primary care physician (which I think we’ve already established is a good thing) and have seen them in the past calendar year; have them complete this attached physician form and ask your provider to send the form in before January 31, 2017.

Haven’t completed biometric screening this year, don’t fret, Great Falls Public Schools will again be offering the option to have these completed on-site at no cost to you.  For those on the health plan, you can receive an incentive for completing the biometric screening and the health risk assessment by January 31, 2017.  More information is coming soon, but the schedule for the biometric screenings is listed below.  Not participating in the health plan, no problem, you can still schedule a biometric screening.  Watch for additional details over the next few weeks!

Biometric Screening Schedule details on how to sign up to follow soon         
-    January 11, 2017 – CMR 6:30 AM to 8:30 AM
-    January 12, 2017 – GFHS 6:30 AM to 8:30 AM
-    January 12, 2017 – Paris 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
-    January 13, 2017 – Paris 6:30 AM to 8:30 AM
-    January 14, 2017 – Paris 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM
 

December Work Schedule

 December Work Schedule – Full Work Days

Please be advised that Friday, December 23, 2016 and Friday, December 30, 2016 are full work days
Should you have any questions please feel free to contact Human Resources or consult your handbook or collective bargaining agreement via this link http://gfpsweb.weebly.com/cbahandbooks.html.
As a reminder, December 26, 2016 and January 2, 2017 are full day holidays.

Giving Campaign Wraps Up

GFPS and the CARE Program would like to thank all of those who donated towards the annual Giving Campaign, once again making it a great success!  The campaign was able to raise over $53,000 for United Way and Montana Shares this year.  Thank you for your support!!  A big shout out to North Middle School – They had 100% building participation!!!  A special thank you goes out to each of the building coordinators who gave generously of their time and to the supporters behind the scenes that helped get everything printed, organized, distributed collected, and totaled for this campaign: 
Bobby Ingalls, CJ  Kara Greenwell, VV
Michelle Yoder & Sandy Brown, LC Amber Peterson, WT 
Miwa Combs, LN  Elizabeth Wallen-Pipinich, WH
Rochelle Johnson, LF Ryan Beam, ELF
Megan Watts & Suzie Doughty, LY  Jennifer Weir, EMS
Amy Hollenback & Susan Dolan, ML  Clinton Topel, NMS
Gary Jenkins, MS  Sara Buley, CMR
Carole McKittrick, MV  Char Brown & Anitra Hall, GFH
Leann Svir, RV  Jodi Hicks, PGEC
Riki Johnson, RS Tammie Ulstad, B&G
Kristin McDermott, SAC Lisa Hogan, GFC-MSU
Todd Currey, SS Bob McGregor, DOB
Erica Harp, School Nurses Danielle Funseth, CARE
Jeff Rieger, ECS Jody Murray, CARE
Rachelle Broughton, DOB, Warehouse, Annex  

 

Email Etiquette, Issue 1

This will be the first of a series of emails on email etiquette.  Today’s topic is on preventing phishing and malware attacks through email.
  • Examine the Sender address
o   If you don’t recognize the sender or you are not expecting an email from them, treat the email with caution especially if the sender is requesting you to open an attachment, click on an embedded link, or ask for confidential information.
o   Also look to see if the sender address matches the content and message of the email.  For example, an email with the sender address of hounddog [at] gmail [dot] com that is soliciting information for US Bank is a definite red flag.
o   Sometimes the sender will “spoof” the sender email address into looking legitimate from a friend or coworker. If the content of the email does not make sense for the person you know, contact them directly to verify before proceeding.
o   Often times, spam email will list a different sender email address than the one that lists once you click the ‘reply to’ link. Always examine the address that actually lists once you click reply to make sure it appears appropriate.
o   Use your ‘junk mail’ folder. If you receive mail that you do not really want, mark it as junk. If you receive more mail from that user, it will be routed to your ‘junk mail’ folder for you. However, you should periodically check your junk mail folder to be sure you are not missing relevant mail.  Computers are not perfect in determining what mail is junk and what is not.
  • Be suspect of unknown attachments and links
o   The most frequent way viruses and malware gain access to the computer and/or network is from individuals opening attachments and website links. Again, if you are not expecting to receive information this way, do not open it.
o   Always mouse over website links in emails and evaluate if the actual website link is relevant for the message. If you mouse over the link, it will display the actual link involved. Verify it’s appropriate and relevant for the message.
o   If in doubt, contact the institution by phone or open your internet browser and go directly to their website. Do not use the link in the email to access their website.
  • Suspect emails requesting confidential information
o   Most all reputable businesses do not solicit for confidential information via email. Again, contact the institution via phone if you have doubts.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
o   It is interesting that some of the very first phishing scams are still circling around. The wealthy Nigerian that wants to give you $5 million is still a scam as it was 10 years ago.
o   While offers for huge discounts or $40 laptops can be very enticing, it usually is too good to be true. Try to avoid falling for these tricks.
  • Scare tactics
o   Perpetrators sometimes use scare tactics to lure you into their trap. Threatening emails from the IRS or attorneys are one such example. Other common schemes are emails that threaten to disable your account or shut down your email because you have reached a size limitation. Again, as stated before, contact the institution directly if you are suspect.
  • Unsubscribe links in an email
If you get unwanted email and it contains an unsubscribe link, think before you respond. If you did not subscribe to the message, do not click the unsubscribe link. Often times, all that does is inform the senders that it’s a real account on the other end and they start sending you more unwanted email.
  • If in doubt, delete it
o   Many of us have this insatiable need to respond to everything that is sent to us. Unfortunately, being aware of the risks that are present is essential in our digital world.  Sometimes the best advice is to just delete the email. If it is important enough, the sender will contact you again, and, more than likely, will use a different communication method.
  • Make sure antivirus and operating systems are up to date
o   Unfortunately, the bad guys are usually a step ahead of the good guys and even after following the tips listed above, it is still possible to be deceived. Having a security hardened computer is essential to protecting against attacks. Here are some areas to look at to keep your (home) personal computer safe and secure. (These items are done on your GFPS computer for you.):
§ Install anti-virus software and make sure it is always active and up to date.
§ Install anti-malware software and make sure to do regular scans of your system.
§ Regularly perform critical security updates to the operating system on your computer.
§ Enable the software firewall provided by the operating system or purchase one.
§ Keep abreast of security issues related to software applications installed on your computer. If the vendor releases a security bulletin, follow their instructions on how to update or patch the software.
§ Make sure the router provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) provides a sufficient level of security. If you do not know how to do this, contact your ISP to help you. If the router also provides wireless services, make sure the wireless is secured and not left open, allowing anyone to connect to it freely.
§ Have a separate login account that has administrator privileges and only use when you need to make an update, not on a daily basis.
§ Set your computer to lock the account after x minutes of inactivity.
  •  Check accounts periodically
o   Check financial accounts periodically to verify they have not been tampered with.
o   Run credit reports regularly. Equifax, Experian and TransUnion provide for one free credit report each year. While they are slightly different in what they report, running one every 4 months provides a minimal level of monitoring throughout the year. Equifax provides a real time, active monitoring subscription service for a nominal monthly fee.
 

 

Discovery Grant Information

Do you have an innovative and creative project you’d like to implement in your classroom or building? You can receive money through a Discovery grant and submissions open today, December 5th, and close January 27th. Great Falls Public Schools employees can submit applications for funding ranging from $500 to $3,000. The program provides opportunities for students to learn in new environments, experience creative teaching methods, participate in out of school experiences, or have new equipment or materials that provide enrichment and support. You can find the application HERE or through the Foundation’s webpage at http://www.gfpsfoundation.org/programs/discovery-grants/

If you have questions about the Discovery Grant program please contact Dave Crum at dave_crum [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us or call 7340. If you have questions regarding the online application please contact Lyndsay Lettre at foundation [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us or at 7401.