February 25, 2019


Changing the Channel from ME to WE

If you didn’t make time last week to attend one of the Converge: E Pluribus Unum performances, you missed out.  The original play, based on over 50 interviews with our students, our staff and our community members, told stories of struggle, loss, triumph and hope.  The playwright explored the difficult themes of food insecurity, homelessness, foster care placement, addiction, violence, poverty, suicide, transgenderism and cultural isolation through the eyes of teachers and students.  As I looked around the auditorium at the faces of the audience, I could see that this was new information to many of them.  When they spoke during the talk-backs at the end of the play, many admitted that they had no idea that these are issues right here in River City.  And that was the point.  Through the ancient art of storytelling, we were asked to open our minds and hearts.  I think it worked.

The trick is to take this spark and make a movement.  A documentary film about Converge will be released in May at a public forum so we can continue the conversation.  I’m already looking forward to it and I hope you participate.  I’m also looking forward to the No More Violence Week, April 1-5, where we can focus on topics that run parallel to Converge.  I’m looking forward to these community conversations to start, to continue, and to spark action.

I’m hopeful that the closing lines of Converge are starting to echo across Great Falls, “Listen, listen, listen.” The actors asked us to listen, without judgement, to other’s stories.  They asked us to listen, to learn and to change our thinking.  I’m hopeful we can change the channel from ME to WE, from MINE to OURS, from YOU to US.

Converge has reminded us that we belong to a community and that means we should be joining hands, minds and yes, dollars, for the common good.  By living in a community, we have responsibilities…to each other and to the next generation.  No one understands that responsibility more than you.  Thanks for your devotion to our kids, our community and our future.  I’m listening for the winds of change and I hope you are too.

Take care.  Be safe.  Stay well.

Measles Preparedness

*While there are no cases of measles in Montana at this time, most health officials believe that it is a possibility given the cases in Washington State.  In order to be prepared to protect our students, our staff and our families in the event that measles develop in our community, please note the following:

  • Become familiar by reading the DPHHS Measles Fact Sheet that describes symptoms and other important information about the virus and disease.
  • Measles are very contagious and are easily spread through coughing and sneezing. A measles infected area is contaminated for 2 hours after exposure.  They are more contagious than pertussis and mumps.  One case in a school could lead to everyone in the school being considered to be exposed.
  • Proper immunization is very effective in preventing measles.
  • You should become knowledgeable about your own and family member immunization status because, in accordance with recommendations from the CDC and the Health Department, an individual who is not known to have immunity to measles may be kept home for as long as the disease is circulating in their work place (this could exceed 21 days). According to the CDC, acceptable evidence of immunity against measles includes at least one of the following:
    • Written documentation of past vaccination:
      • One or more doses of measles-containing vaccine administered on or after the first birthday for adults not at high risk, or
      • Two doses of measles-containing vaccine for adults at high risk (including college students in post-high school institutions, healthcare personnel and international travelers)
    • Blood tests that show you are immune to measles
    • Laboratory confirmation that you had measles
    • Birth before 1957 as presumed immune by age
  • In the absence of the above, you can receive an MMR (mumps, measles and rubella) vaccine, even if you have been vaccinated in the past, without harm. Mumps have been confirmed in Montana, which is another good reason to get the MMR vaccine.
    • Vaccinations can be obtained at:
      • GFPS school-based health clinics at PGEC and Giant Springs
      • The City-County Health Department, 115 4th S., 454-6950
      • Alluvion Health Care (formerly Community Health Care Center), 454-6973
      • Your personal healthcare provider
    • Pregnant and immunocompromised employees should contact their healthcare provider to discuss the implications of a measles outbreak in our community.
    • A letter was sent home via the Wednesday Envelopes on February 6 to all elementary students regarding the need to be properly immunized for mumps and measles. Middle school and high school students without proper immunizations were mailed letters encouraging them to be immunized.  The information included exclusionary possibilities.

Thank you for reviewing this information.  Again, it is only provided so that we can be prepared to hopefully minimize the impact IF measles are confirmed in our community.  If your immunization status is questionable, please consult with the sources listed above.

* Measles have not been identified in Montana since 1990, and with continued diligence that trend is hoped to be maintained. However, measles is present in many places across the nation. In 2018, 372 cases of measles were reported from 26 states in the US, with an additional 79 cases reported in 10 states since January 1, 2019. If you are traveling, be aware of local measles risk in the places you intend to visit.

Budget building blocks, pen, drawing YOU’RE INVITED!

Public schools need public input!
2019-2020 BUDGET!


Monday, March 4, 2019, 5:30 pm at the District Office Building, 1100 4th St. S.

You are invited to join the GFPS administration and Board of Trustees in an update from your LOCAL LEGISLATORS regarding the education bills that have been considered thus far in the 66th Montana Legislature.  This is during the transmittal break so it is a perfect time to review so the Board can begin to make budgetary decisions for the 2019-2020 school year.  Come join in the conversation!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 5:30 pm at the District Office Building, 1100 4th St. S.

You are invited to join Superintendent Lacey and the Board Budget Committee in a presentation regarding 2019-2020 revenue and expense projections and frequently asked questions.  Participants can ask additional questions and provide input.  In order to prepare for the meeting, you are invited to review these websites for background information:  “School Budgeting “101” , “This is Great Falls Public Schools”

Thursday, March 21, 2019, 1:00 pm at the District Office Building, 1100 4th St. S.

The Board Budget Committee, made up of Trustees Jeff Gray, Jan Cahill and Kim Skornogoski, will review revenue and expense projections as well as public input to formulate a recommendation to the full Board.  They will consider options such as running an operational levy, a technology levy, a safety levy (depending on legislative action) or no levy.  The public is invited to attend and public comment will be on the agenda.

Monday, March 25, 2019, 5:30 pm at the District Office Building, 1100 4th St. S.

Along with the regular agenda, the Board will consider the recommendations of the Board Budget Committee and take action to prepare for the 2019-2020 budget.  In order to run a May levy election, the Trustees are required to set an amount, if any, at this meeting.  Public comment will be on the agenda.

Attention employees currently on the GFPS Health Insurance

An email was sent to employees with a school district email containing a very short survey with some questions in regards to the health insurance plan.  Letters were sent to employees without a district email on 2/20/2019 explaining how to get access to the survey. The survey is not mandatory, but we are hoping it will help us understand how employees feel about what is currently being offered and what we can do to make it better!  The survey will be open through 5:00 p.m. on 3/7/2019.  This survey is only open to employees currently enrolled in the health insurance.  If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Heather Spurzem, HR Benefits Analyst at 268-6012.

GFPS Insurance Committee Minutes

Great Falls Public Schools Insurance Committee Minutes are now on the Great Falls Public Schools website!  To see what was discussed at the meeting, click on the Insurance Committee Minutes link under Benefit Information on the GFPS website!  http://gfpsweb.weebly.com/benefits.html

Pints for Troy    American Red Cross with logo of a red cross in a white circle

#Riverview Pints for Troy

Date:  Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Time:  11:30 am to 6:30 pm
Location:  Riverview Gym, 100 Smelter Ave

Sign up for an appointment on line at redcrossblood.org (search by troystrong) or by calling Lee Ruud at 268-7040.

 1-800-red cross     

Judges NeededScience and Engineering Fair logo elementary school middle and high school

Is your child looking for an opportunity outside of school to showcase his/her science or engineering talent?

If so, see below for information regarding participation in the 2019 Montana Region II
Science and Engineering Fair.

  • Registration opens February 4, 2019 and closes March 1, 2019.
  • Students may register at www.gfcmsu.edu/sciencefair/
  • This above website will give you information regarding registration cost (just $5.00 per student), schedule of events, project rules and criteria.
  • This is a great opportunity for students to be exposed to a broad range of scientific inquiry.
  • Since there will be no GFPS STEAM Expo this year, we hope students will take advantage of this opportunity.

Please visit the link below if you are interested in judging:

Volunteers Needed

The Montana FFA is excited to announce that the Career Development Events (CDE) Days will be hosted at Great Falls College, March 2-3. This is the third year that the CDE Days event has been in existence in Montana and first time that it will take place in the Electric City with 1,000 FFA members, advisors, and volunteers expected to attend. This event is presented by Montana Farmers Union who is the new event sponsor for CDE Days!

The FFA offers numerous opportunities for middle and high school students to develop their leadership and career skills. The CDE Days event focuses on developing these skills through members’ participation in 11 state-level competitive events which serve as qualifying events for the National FFA Convention in October. The competitive events held at CDE Days include:

  • Ag Communications
  • Ag Education
  • Ag Issues
  • Employment Skills
  • Floriculture
  • Food Science
  • Forestry
  • Horse Evaluation
  • Marketing Place
  • Poultry Evaluation
  • Veterinary Science

Over 150 judges and volunteers are needed for the 11 Career and Leadership Development Events that will take place. Individuals who are interested in volunteering to judge can sign up at this link: http://signup.com/go/VmwQxyO

Call for PIR Facilitators for the 2019-2020 School Year

Details about 2019-2020 PIR Proposals:

  • The date range for PIR sessions is June 8, 2019 – April 30, 2020 (priority will be given to those proposals that take place during first semester).
  • All forms are due by Friday, March 1, 2019.
  • No new proposals will be accepted after the March 1 deadline.
  • Please be sure to avoid the DD & PIR Summit dates (June 10-12 & Aug 22), any holidays, 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 use this worksheet to be sure you have all of the information you need. The link to the actual form is at the bottom of the worksheet. For more information about PIR Facilitator Obligations and Pay, please visit the following link: http://gfps.k12.mt.us/content/pir-help

Montana PBS Writing Contest for PreK-12 Students

In anticipation of our next Indie Lens Pop-Up film screening, we invite you to participate in our 2019 Writing Contest. You’ll have the opportunity to submit an original piece of writing that answers what it means to be a good neighbor. Submissions will be divided into groups of grade levels (Pre-K, K, 1, 2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12), which means we’ll be selecting seven winners! Submissions will be accepted from February 14 to March 14, with the winners being announced in early April. We invite you to be inspired by the legacy of Fred Rogers and create submissions that describe kindness, listening and learning.

Entries are accepted electronically by filling out the form on the website: https://www.montanapbs.org/events/ILPU/writingcontest2019/ or you can send your hard copy version with the printable entry form to MontanaPBS (downloadable PDF form is linked to the right on the webpage).

Writing Contest 2019

We invite you to join our first annual PBS Kids Writing Contest! In the spirit of Mr. Rogers, we want to know what you think it means to be a good neighbor.

Mail Hard Copy Submissions to:
Montana PBS
ATTN: Nikki Vradenburg
PO Box 173340
Bozeman, MT 59717

 Email nikki@montanapbs.org

Katie Kotynski
Creative Consulting–Home of the 100-Dollar Website


Delta Kappa Gamma will be awarding $500 to one first-year, one second-year and one third-year teacher to help offset the cost you have contributed to your classroom and teaching.

If you are interested, please contact Sharon Kelley at  sharon_kelley@gfps.k12.mt.us<mailto:sharon_kelley@gfps.k12.mt.us> for an application form.

Thank you for joining the teaching profession and we appreciate you!

Delta Kappa Gamma



Andrew Nagengast Gallery 16 Feb Featured Artist - photo of pottery vase

Gallery 16 is proud to announce our February featured potter is North Middle School Art teacher, Andrew Nagengast.  A reception will be held on February 1, Friday, from 5:00 – 9:00 PM at Gallery 16, 600 Central Avenue.  All are welcome.  His pottery will be shown all month.




Safety Starts with You! on yellow background

Safe Schools Online Safety Training $50.00 Card Drawing

During the months of February and March, Montana School Boards Association invites you to participate in Safe Schools online safety training. Safe Schools offers online video safety training to all Great Falls Public Schools employees. Please follow the instructions below to access the video trainings:


  1. Make sure you are using Google Chrome Browser
  2. Go to the Safe Schools Link http://www.greatfalls.mt.safeschools.com
  3. Sign-in with your first name_last name
  4. Password will be your first name_last name
  5. Click “View More Courses”
  6. Choose a safety training to view
  7. Once you have viewed the safety video, please go to the provided Google Doc’s Link https://goo.gl/forms/WmxZXuuAovGasgZw2
  8. Sign into your google account to fill out a 2 question survey on the training. You will be entered in a $50.00 gift card drawing upon completion of the survey. The drawing will end March 31st with the winners being announced the following week.