Newsbits
February 1, 2016
Issue No: 
22

Contents

SUPERINTENDENT’S MESSAGE

Choosing the Daily Weather

I’ve been hearing that things seem to be tense out there. I must admit that some of the parents and community members I have had conversations with in the last several weeks have been less than pleasant…tense is probably a good word to use to describe the conversations. I have a theory about what might be causing the seeming lack of civility, tenseness and downright grumpiness: the Presidential election.

It seems that everywhere we turn there are media stories about nasty things the candidates are saying about each other, the other party, our current President, the American people, the immigrants, the economy, Megyn Kelly, women, men…you name it. Nastiness seems to be what gets people’s attention these days as they vie for votes. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior can be contagious. Inappropriate behavior is being modeled by our potential leaders and because humans are humans, we start emulating what we hear and see. I’m afraid how things are going to be by November if we don’t rise above our human tendencies and end grumpiness.

If we let grumpiness be the attitude of the day, I can only imagine how many potentially inspirational moments, outstanding results and satisfying connections and relationships we miss as a result. As I said in my very first Convocation message, the cool thing about being human is that we can choose our daily weather. In other words, we can choose our attitude. For me, I try to remember these things as I combat grumpiness by adjusting my attitude:
• Be a grown-up. I can control my thoughts, my words and my actions.
• Take the high road. I will fight the urge to emulate grumpy uncivil behavior.
• Think about others…it’s not all about me. I’m here to make good things happen for our kids, our community and our future.
• Check my routines. When my healthy eating, exercising and sleeping routines get out of whack, grumpiness can set in.

I have no research to support my theory about the cause of grumpiness I mentioned above, nor about how to combat it. With that being said however, I hope we can ensure that we are our very best selves when we work with students; that we choose only the best daily weather. They deserve nothing less.

Take care. Be safe. Stay well.
Tammy

 

Notice to Members of MPERA-Administered Retirement Systems

On May 2, 2016, the Montana Public Employee Retirement Administration (MPERA) is implementing a new computer system that will improve customer service for employers and members. With the implementation of the new system there will be some impacts to our members. Please be aware of the following:
If you want to retire effective April 1, 2016
• April 14, 2016 – This is the last day we can receive your completed retirement application (including all required paperwork) for you to receive a retirement benefit on the last working day of April.
If you want to purchase any type of service
• March 1, 2016 – MPERA will stop processing service purchase requests. We will do our best to process your request by this deadline. If your request to purchase service is not processed by March 1, 2016, it will not be calculated and mailed to you until the new system goes live in May of 2016. Please be assured that you will not be charged any additional interest due to this short delay.
• May 2, 2016 - Service purchase requests received after March 1, 2016 will be processed as quickly as possible in the new system.
Employers will begin using the new computer system in May. Later this year MPERA will implement a web-based Member Self Service Portal that will provide account access to all of our members. Watch our website for more information about the Member Self Service Portal.
If you have any questions, please contact MPERA at 1-800-275-7372 (or 444-3154 in Helena).

 

Discovery Grant Applications Now Open

The Great Falls Public Schools Foundation is pleased to announce that Discovery Grant applications are now open. Individuals can apply for a maximum of $3,000 per grant. The Foundation will award $60,000 for Discovery Grants this year.

This grant program provides opportunities for teachers to purchase equipment or books that will enrich student education. Additionally, individuals can apply for funds to teach students in new environments and facilitate social and academic out of school experiences. These are just a few examples of funded Discovery Grants.

Applications are currently being accepted and will close on March 4th, 2016. The winners will be notified by April 4th. You can find the application here.

If you have any questions regarding the online application process, please contact Lyndsay Lettre at 268-7401 or at foundation [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us. General questions about the grants can be directed to Dave Crum at 268-7340 or at dave_crum [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us.

 

Tax Documents & The Affordable Care Act – Form 1095 Update

All employees should have received your W-2s that were sent at the end of January. Please note as you are preparing your taxes for submission, the Form 1095C will be a new form sent by the District that you will need. However, the IRS has issued an extension for employers to issue this form to their employees and it is not needed in order to submit your 2015 taxes. The new deadline set forth by the IRS is March 31, 2016 and the District is prepared to comply with this new Affordable Care Act mandate.
Additionally, you will receive another new tax document sent directly from Cigna if you participate in the District sponsored health plan. This document, called a Form 1095B, is used as verification that you held health insurance coverage in 2015 to comply with the individual shared responsibility provision of the Affordable Care Act. Like the 1095C, you are not required to submit the 1095B when you file your 2015 taxes.
Should you have any questions regarding any of this information please contact the Human Resource Department at 268-6010.

 

Tech Team Openings at Longfellow & Sunnyside

Interested in representing Longfellow (effective March 1, 2016) or Sunnyside (effective August 1, 2016) on the district-level technology team? If so, please fill out the below application by Friday, February 12, and email to Susan Quinn. The application lists the responsibilities of the job, which requires a two-hour meeting once per month in addition to other duties. Questions can be emailed to Susan Quinn, Jana Mora, or Charlene Ammons. Visit the following link for the application (http://bit.ly/GFPS-tech-team-app). Download the application as Word, fill it out, and email it to Susan Quinn by Friday, February 12. 

PAYROLL INFORMATION FOR FEBRUARY 2016

Substitute Para timesheets are due by the 2nd of each month. Substitute Teachers should verify all assignments are correct in AESOP by the 2nd of each month.

Teacher timecards and Class Coverage sheets are due in the Business Office the morning of Friday, February 12th. Reconciling should be done daily. Please verify all absences are reconciled by the 12th.

All other timecards are due in the Business Office the morning of Monday, February 22nd. Please e-mail any absences for the 22nd to BoPayrollLead [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us. If you know in advance an employee is going to be gone, please have them mark it on their timecard rather than waiting to email.

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.

TERMINATING EMPLOYEES

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.

Substitute Para timesheets are due by the 2nd of each month. Substitute Teachers should verify all assignments are correct in AESOP by the 2nd of each month.

Teacher timecards and Class Coverage sheets are due in the Business Office the morning of Friday, February 12th. Reconciling should be done daily. Please verify all absences are reconciled by the 12th.

All other timecards are due in the Business Office the morning of Friday, February 22nd. Please e-mail any absences for the 22nd to BoPayrollLead [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us. If you know in advance an employee is going to be gone, please have them mark it on their timecard rather than waiting to email.

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.

TERMINATING EMPLOYEES

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.

 

Concussion: Answers in the Blood?

Concussions, particularly in the sports arena, are at the forefront of people’s minds as new information surfaces about their potentially damaging effects on some athletes. While concussion awareness is on the rise and current diagnostic protocols are improving, concussion diagnosis still relies heavily on observed symptoms and self-reporting by athletes.

Now, a team of scientists at the University of Montana, Missoula, is attempting to develop a blood test to provide a definitive diagnosis for concussions. These scientists, Sarj Patel and Tom Rau, both research assistant professors at the University of Montana Department of Biomedical & Pharmaceutical Sciences, will present their findings and answer questions.

Dr. Paul Johnson, Benefis Sports Medicine Physician and Army Reserve Physician who was deployed to Afghanistan, will also present.

Highlights from the Montana PBS documentary will be shown.

Active duty military and veterans, coaches, athletic trainers, athletes and parents are encouraged to attend.

When: Tuesday, February 2
Refreshments at 5:30 p.m.; presentations beginning at 6 p.m.

Where: Cameron Auditorium, Benefis East Campus South Tower
1101 26th Street South, Great Falls

RSVP: Call 455-4806 today.

 

Bring Your A Game

 

Heisey Teacher Scholarship

Great Falls Public Schools Foundation’s
Heisey Teacher Scholarship Applications for 2016-2017 School Year
Now Open

What:
• Twenty $1,000 scholarships will be awarded competitively to school teachers in the Great Falls Public Schools District to help fund work toward a master’s degree, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification, academic work supporting Great Falls Public Schools’ District Goals, or an Endorsement, including; counseling, administration, special education, or any other field related to education.
• Twenty scholarships will be awarded throughout the district, with the intent of awarding support in multiple schools. In the event that one or more schools do not have a qualified applicant, multiple scholarships may be awarded at the same school.
• Teachers who have already completed a master’s degree may apply the scholarship to a second master’s degree or an advanced degree (Ph.D. or Ed.D.).
• Scholarships may also be used for the purpose of working toward an advanced degree or securing an endorsement in a specific subject area, which is applicable to teaching.
• Scholarships may be utilized to fund the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification process.
• Scholarships may be utilized to support academic work which would directly support the professional in their capacity of supporting district level goals and initiatives.
• All monies must be expended within six months of the date the scholarship is awarded.
Who:
• Any teacher presently holding a teaching position in the Great Falls School District and who is committed to signing a contract to teach in the school district for the school year following the scholarship award.
When:
• Online applications opened January 5, 2016
• Application is available here.
• Online applications will close on February 11, 2016

APPLICATION WILL BE RANKED ON:
• Competency as a teacher as indicated by letters of reference and other information presented to the committee.
• Commitment to the profession as indicated by goals.
• Availability of job vacancies in the field, as well as needs of the district.

If you have any questions regarding the online application process, please contact Lyndsay Lettre at 268-7401 or at foundation [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us. General questions about the scholarship can be directed to Dave Crum at 268-7340 or at dave_crum [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us.

 

TEACHER RETIREMENT INFORMATION

 

In order to be eligible for severance pay, teachers choosing to retire at the end of the second semester must submit a letter of resignation by March 1. Please refer to Article 8, Section C of the Teachers’ Collective Bargaining Agreement for further information.

While the deadline noted above is March 1, the Human Resources Office would very much appreciate notification as early as possible. The earlier we know, the earlier we can start the recruitment process for open positions. An early start will help us with the difficult task of replacing the experience and expertise of our much appreciated retiring staff and also allows us to get top notch candidates to be your colleagues.

If you are even close to considering retirement (5 years or less) please contact the Teachers’ Retirement System and setup an appointment. The more you know the better you can prepare for retirement. TRS may be contacted at 1-866-600-4045. It is very important to note that the Irrevocable Election Form must be completed and submitted to TRS a minimum of 90 days before your retirement date. (March 11, 2016 is this year’s deadline.) For more information on the recommended timelines click this link to the TRS Retirement Timeline.

Additionally, you can log into your TRS account to view information on wages and contribution history, purchasable service, and your current beneficiary. Click here to enter your TRS Account. You can also update your contact information or request an estimate of benefits.

For more information TRS has provided a handbook that can be accessed via this link TRS Member’s Retirement Handbook or on their website at https://trs.mt.gov/.

If you have additional questions about retirement, deadlines, paperwork, etc. please contact the Human Resources Department at 268-6010.
 

 

CALUMET TO RUN SAFETY TEST

CALUMET TO RUN SAFETY TEST- within the next three weeks Calumet will be running safety tests of their new refractor. The test may be a loud roar as they burn off a simulated pressure relief gas, if the flame is visible it may be as high as thirty feet. You may be interested in knowing that GFPS is actively involved in Calumet’s citizens committee. This is a group made up of a variety of interest groups and is limited in number. GFPS has the privilege to have Tammy Lacey, Rae Smith, Dave Houtz and Brad Barringer on this committee. The meetings are held once a month to discuss relative topics and concerns. This has been an excellent and positive opportunity for the community and GFPS.

 

Ferst Foundation

Ferst Foundation:

Would you like to provide a year’s worth of books to children in our community? Now you can easily give this gift! Through the Ferst Foundation, you can provide books for a year every year for children aged 0-5. One year of books for a child you know is just $40. To pay it forward and donate to an anonymous child in need of books, it only costs you $36! For more information, or to order books, please contact Lisa Jahraus (Title TSA, x6028), Carol Paul (Title Coordinator, x6779), or Amy Meyer (Family Engagement Coordinator, x6778). Also, be sure to find us on Facebook – Great Falls Ferst Foundation! Give us a LIKE!

 

Call for PIR Facilitators for the 2016-2017 School Year

Call for PIR Facilitators for the 2016-2017 School Year

Details about 2016-2017 PIR Calendar/reminders:
· The date range is June 13, 2016 - April 30, 2017.
· All forms are due by Friday, March 11, 2016.
· Please be sure to avoid any holidays as well as MEA days and Wednesdays when scheduling your dates.
· PIR Sessions can be done as a single 6-hour session, two 3-hour sessions, or three 2-hour sessions.
If you are interested in facilitating or co-facilitating a PIR offering, please fill out the PIR Proposal Form (https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GFPS-PIR-PROPOSAL) no later than Friday, March 11 (Note: this form is different from last year. Do NOT fill out an old .pdf form). For more information about PIR Facilitator Obligations and Pay, please visit the following link: http://gfps.k12.mt.us/content/pir-help

 

New Employee Fitness Program – Oula

Oula is a great dance fitness program, however it is different from Zumba. For a full description of Oula go to Oulafitness.com. This class will be held at Meadow Lark Elementary School in the gym. Classes will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning February 2, 2016. Class time is 6 am – 7 am. The Instructor for this class will be Bethany Chabot.