January 7, 2019

Superintendent’s Message

19 GFPS Notables for 2019

Happy 2019!  As GFPS embarks upon the new calendar year and the second half of the school year, I thought it was a perfect time to share 19 notables about GFPS (in no certain order):

  1. BASICS. GFPS is the 2nd largest school district in Montana with approximately 7% of Montana’s students attending.  It is the 3rd largest employer in Great Falls only behind Malmstrom and Benefis.
  2. LONGEVITY. We have been a stable and well-managed community institution since 1888.  August 29, 2018 was the 130th first day of school in Great Falls.
  3. STUDENTS. 10,000+ students from ages 3 to 21 attend our schools.  This doesn’t include the adults who attend the GFPS Adult Education program at GFC-MSU. Our goal is for every student to graduate college, career and citizenship ready with a meaningful plan for the future.  We continue to focus on achievement and opportunity gaps that challenge our students and their futures.
  4. STAFF MEMBERS. Over 1900 full and part-time staff members play a significant role in making education happen for our 10,000+ students. We believe that all students deserve teachers and staff who thrive on student success.
  5. ACADEMIC AND EXTRA- AND CO-CURRICULAR PROGRAMS. We also believe that each student should have fair and equitable opportunities for quality instruction and academic success, and that all students learn best when their individual needs are met through a personalized school experience. That is why we offer comprehensive programming that allows for student choice and exploration.
  6. STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT. For the 3rd year in a row, our 3rd-8th grade students outperformed the rest of the state on last spring’s Smarter Balanced Assessments (SBAC). Student achievement is important because we believe that a well-educated community is the foundation of our democracy.
  7. TRUSTEES. Our Board members understand their obligation to do best by our students and our community as exemplified by their commitment to fair governance via contemporary and meaningful policies.
  8. SAFETY. We take student and staff safety seriously. Through a continued partnership with the Police Department, four SROs work alongside all of you in keeping students and staff safe. Safety plans and protocols have been prepared for 12 different emergencies. They are on the Crisis Manager app.
  9. BUDGET. This year’s general fund budget is $70.9 million.  Since 2000, the budget has increased an average of 1.51% per year. Inflation has increased an average of 2.41% per year in the same time period.
  10. BALANCED BUDGETS. Since 2008, $10,439,212 in reductions and $5,120,288 in reserves have been used to accomplish balanced budgets.  We must never forget that our financial resources are public assets that require responsible stewardship.
  11. FACILITIES. 1 million square feet of building space and 295 acres of land are well-maintained and conducive to learning and work. The 2016 bond dollars are being used to update all schools and to build new learning spaces.  The bond dollars cannot be used for anything else. We believe that all students and staff learn and work best in a safe, secure, and nurturing environments.
  12. TECHNOLOGY FUNDING. GF taxpayers invest $225,000 ($22.50/student) annually in technology expenses via a perpetual Technology Levy that passed in 2002. Through their Technology Levies, Butte taxpayers invest $300,000 ($68/student), Kalispell $565,750 ($182/student), Bozeman $584,300 ($88/student), Helena $1,038,000 ($125/student), Missoula $1,623,400 ($180/student) and Billings $2,184,100 ($128/student).
  13. NUTRITION PROGRAMS. Approximately 50% of our students qualify for the National School Lunch and Breakfast program. Each day, about 6000 students receive healthy lunches that contain fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and are greeted by committed and caring Food Service staff.  About 2500 students eat a healthy breakfast at school to start their day.
  14. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT. GFPS believes that highly skilled and committed personnel are our greatest asset which is why we fight to continue to fund our professional development and staff training programs.
  15. TRANSPORTATION. In conjunction with Big Sky Bus Lines, our Transportation Department oversees 68 buses that are driven 4820 total miles per school day while focusing on safety and getting students to school on time.
  16. OUR FOUNDATION. When staff members have good ideas that enhance educational opportunities, the Foundation steps up to fund them.  The GFPS Foundation funded 34 grants this school year to include 15 innovation grants totaling $132,750.72 and 19 discovery grants totaling $41,127.78.
  17. TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION. In September 2016, the Board adopted our Technology Plan.  As technology is an extension of student life today, it is essential that attention is paid to learning opportunities that use technologies that engage students and promote collaboration, critical thinking skills, and multi-dimensional problem solving for academic success. Check out the Plan here:  https://gfps.k12.mt.us/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Great%20Falls%20Public%20Schools_Technology_Plan.pdf.
  18. COMMUNITY. The GF community supports our students, staff, and schools in a variety of ways. We are grateful to local businesses and community groups that provide opportunities like internships and resources that enhance what we do. We continue to do more to engage families and community members with our schools because we believe that quality education is a partnership of students, staff, family, and community members.
  19. AND ABOUT 2000 MORE…to make it 2019 but that is too many to list. Check out this link for more tidbits and long lists of accomplishments: https://gfps.k12.mt.us/about-us/.

Happy New Year!  Take care!  Stay safe!  Be well!

Meet the Superintendent Finalists

On behalf of the Montana School Boards Association and the Great Falls Public Schools Board of Trustees, you are invited to attend a “Meet and Greet” with the three candidates for the Great Falls Public Schools Superintendent position.

When:  Sunday, January 13, 2019
Where:  Paris Gibson Education Center Cafeteria; 2400 Central Ave
Time:  1:00 – 3:00 pm

Please come to visit with and learn more about the candidates.  Light snacks will be provided.

Press Release Finalists

Mileage Rate Change Effective January 1, 2019

Beginning on January 1, 2019, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be: .58 cents for every mile of business travel driven, up 3.5 cents from the 2018 rate.

Standard Mileage Rates for 2019 Up from Rates for 2018 … – IRS.gov
Montana City to City 2019 Mileage Chart

Please forward all mileage reimbursement request for Mileage July 2018 – December 31, 2018 to the Business Office by Tuesday, January 15, 2019.

The Mileage rate will need to be changed in File maker Pro Set up before you start a new sheet for January. 



Due to our transition to using Community Health Care Center for our biometric screenings, we feel it is appropriate to extend the screening opportunities through the end of January. Employees on the GFPS health insurance plan must complete a biometric screening and a health risk assessment between now and the end of January to be eligible for the monthly premium incentive.

Special Saturday screening days have been scheduled for January 12th and 19th at the main CHCC location at 113 4th St South. The hours on these screening days will run from 6am-12pm.

Entire January schedule:  GFPS BMS January Calendar

Please call 454-6973 to schedule your appointment.

Angels in Action

What is Angels in Action?
Angels in Action is a non-profit program for GFPS families who are facing a crisis.  This program will provide employees a modest donation to help off-set the cost of expenses experienced because of the crisis.  Angels in Action is completely funded through donations from GFPS employees and individuals, businesses and volunteers who wish to contribute.
Learn more about the Angels in Action program.

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

Emergency Response to an Armed Intruder Training

The last training for the school year will take place on January 21, 2019. The training is 6 hours and takes place from 8:30-3:30 pm with an hour lunch  break. There are currently spots open. Register in PIR Central or contact Jody Murray by email jody_murray@gfps.k12.mt.us or at 268-6770

Course description:
This course was designed to give those involved in an active shooter or active threat incident practical measures to utilize to help ensure their safety and the safety of others until law enforcement arrives. This course uses hands-on performance based training designed to increase safety and efficiency in an effort to save lives. This training incorporates lecture, practical exercises, and scenario based modules. At the conclusion of this training students will recognize the importance of planning, rehearsals, preparation, and survival techniques associated with an immediate response to an armed intruder.

Responding to Military Children with Exception Needs Training

Responding to Military Children with Exceptional Needs is a professional development institute designed to inform concerned adults about military-connected children with exceptional needs and the issues they may face as they transition from school to school.
A free training will take place on Saturday, February 9, 2019 from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm at the Great Falls Association of Realtors; 401 13th Ave South.  This training is sponsored by the U.S. Air Force and Malmstrom AFB School Liaison Office.

Registration information can me found here.

Indian Education Department

Get to know our staff:

Indian Education Director:  Marcy Cobell

Title VI
Mission:  school readiness/school attendance/academic achievement/graduation rate.
Youth Development Specialists (YDS) P-8:  Serena Steffenson, Rochelle Deroche, Nataley Fidler, Rachael Jarvey, and TJ IronBear.
Academic Achievement Facilitators 9-12:  Kylan Hallett and Cheri Kickingwoman.

Indian Education for All (IEFA)
The goal of the successful implementation of the Indian Education for All Act (MCA 20-1-501).  Implementation of Indian Education for All is achieved through professional development, grants to local schools, funding to regional education providers and other partners, and through the development and publication of material and resources for K-12 public schools.
IEFA Instructional Coaches K-12:  Jordann Lankford and Miranda Murray.

Speech and Debate Judges Needed

This year, C.M. Russell High School is hosting the Electric City Optimists Invitational Speech and Debate Tournament January 11th and 12th.

Please consider taking part in this excellent opportunity to come see some of the best and brightest students from across the State of Montana demonstrate their ability in public speaking and knowledge of current affairs.

Friday, January 11th:

  • Speech Rounds at CM Russell High School
    4:00 PM 6:00 PM 8:00 PM
  • Debate Rounds at CMR unless otherwise announced
    4:00 PM 6:00 PM 8:00 PM

Saturday, January 12th:

  • Speech Rounds at CM Russell High School
    8:30 AM 10:30 AM 1:00 PM 3:00 PM
  • Debate Rounds at CMR unless otherwise announced
    8:00 AM 10:00 AM 12:00 PM 2:00 PM 4:00 PM

If you are interested in judging for the tournament, you may register in these ways:

Thank you!

QR code

Currently Enrolled in a Master’s Program?

 Delta Kappa Gamma is providing 2 Elizabeth Wick Scholarships to teachers who are already enrolled in a Master’s program. Each scholarship recipient will receive $1000.00 in April 2019. Applications are due January 15, 2019.

Photograph of former librarian Elizabeth WickElizabeth Wick was a 60-year member of Delta Kappa Gamma. While in college in Dillon, she worked as a textbook librarian for 40 cents an hour. Elizabeth spent summers at Northwestern University where she received her master’s degree in Elementary Education. Elizabeth taught in Glasgow and Kalispell before coming to Great Falls, where she taught first grade at Largent and Longfellow schools from 1951 until her retirement in 1973.


Please send completed application to:
Tara Hagins
Morningside Elementary

Lesley University Graduate Program in Great Falls

black graduation cap with diploma tied with a red ribbon

Starts late Spring!

Integrated Teaching through the Arts Curriculum & Instruction, M.Ed.

Program is designed for all K-12 educators
Project based – no GRE required
Skills that transfer to your everyday lessons!
Move up on the Salary Schedule as you go!
Financial aid and payment plans are available.
Regionally and nationally accredited
Financial Aid Counselor to assist Student Loan Process!
Deferred Student Loan payment 6 months after completion of your degree!
Nineteen weekends total! The entire program is completed in less than two years
$5000 Loan Forgiveness is available!  $50 application fee waiver!

Face-To-Face teaching one weekend a month: Saturday & Sunday 8am – 5pm

Contact: Cathy Kuntz


Earn Two Graduate Credits for $200

Would you like to earn a step  on the pay scale while learning something useful for your classroom?  This spring, Katie Kotynski is offering a class on creativity. Participants will read the book “Made to Stick” while designing lessons that foster innovation and vision as well as making the information learned  “stick” in your students’ minds. Your lessons will be individualized for your subject area. The class will be conducted through Google Classroom or Moodle with optional face-to-face discussion sessions. Cost is $200 plus the book (Amazon $9.84 hardbound; $14 Kindle). email Katie_kotynski@gfps.k12.mt.us if interested.