November 12, 2018

Thank You Veterans! Poster colored by a child with seven characters representing veterans


Superintendent’s Message
AND SO IT BEGINS…MONTANA’S 66th LEGISLATURE

The 4th President of the United States said, “The effect of a representative democracy is to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of the nation.”  I think President James Madison was telling us that elections are not the end of a process; that they are in fact the beginning.  I think he was telling us that once the “body of citizens” has been elected, it is incumbent upon the public to share their views to ensure wise decisions are made on behalf of the people.

To that end, your GFPS leaders have been working to develop information for our legislators.  We have developed a list of priorities for the upcoming 2019 legislative session and we are putting together data to support them. You can view the list of priorities by clicking HERE.  Last Thursday night, we met with most of our local legislators over dinner to teach them about school funding and to explain our needs and priorities.  They met the Cabinet members that can best answer their questions while they are contemplating the bills that will come before them during the session.

We didn’t do all the talking at the dinner, however.  Our legislators told the group that they want to hear from all of us during the session…“all” meaning teachers, staff members, parents, students and community members.  They understand that having good relationships with their constituents is important to success.

We think our relationships with our representatives are vitally important as well.  We plan to enhance our relationships with them starting now and lasting right up through the last day of the session next April.  Some of you may be called upon to provide information and I hope you will be open to sharing your expertise.  This is important because wisdom is gained from experiencing many perspectives.

So while I am very relieved that the election ads and rhetoric are done, President Madison reminds me that the real work is just beginning.  I hope you will join in as this important work will make it more likely that our legislators’ wisdom will serve our interests well.  Elections matter, but the laws that are passed in legislative sessions matter even more.

Take care.  Be safe.  Stay well.
Tammy


Superintendent Search Survey

This is  a survey administered by the Montana School Boards Association on behalf of the Great Falls Board of Trustees to assist in the hiring of a new Superintendent.  The School Board appreciates your time and assistance in completing this important survey.  The results will help the Board as they review the applications for the position of superintendent of schools.
SURVEY DEADLINE:  Friday, November 30, 2018, 5:00 pm MST.


Information on Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

President Donald Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TJJA) into law on December 22, 2017.  The IRS has recently released a publication (Publication 5307, Tax Reform Basics for Individuals and Families) designed to help taxpayers understand how this new law will affect their taxes.   Because of the many changes in the tax law, refunds may be different from prior years for some taxpayers. The publication provides important information about increasing the standard deduction, suspending personal exemptions, increasing the child tax credit, adding a new credit for other dependents and limiting or discontinuing certain deductions.  It outlines steps taxpayers can take now to ensure smooth processing of their 2018 tax return and avoid surprises when they file next year.   Taxpayers should perform a Paycheck Checkup to help determine if they need to adjust their withholding or make estimated or additional tax payments now.  The IRS also cautions taxpayers not to rely on getting a refund by a certain date as returns this year may require additional reviews.  The new tax law and steps the IRS is taking to strengthen security are being implemented to help protect against theft and refund fraud may delay the refund.


Indian Education For ALL (IEFA) Message

With Thanksgiving coming up you have a great opportunity to add IEFA into your content and curriculum with intentional conversation and activities. When teaching students about Thanksgiving,  it is important to remember the ancestral knowledge American Indians possessed concerning the land. This includes their scientific knowledge of agriculture that they harnessed and used to sustain their societies.

Ask students:
-Without this knowledge would the Pilgrims have survived on their own?
-What would the outcome have been if the American Indian people had not been gracious and hospitable enough to share this knowledge about the new landscape the Pilgrims encountered?
-If you didn’t learn from someone else, how long do you think it would it take you to learn how to hunt, fish, and farm in a completely new landscape?
-What has been the “European version” of this story?  How are the American Indians the Europeans Indians encountered portrayed, that is incorrect and false?
-What would be a better way to teach both sides that would honor both sides of the story?
-Are there ways we can still celebrate this “portrayed” partnership, that could help us continue to work for understanding and also honor the stories?

Brought to you by the
Indian Education For All Instructional Coaches

Academic Language Development Foundations Training for Teachers of Native American English Learners

My student was identified as an English Learner. Now what?

Student Services Department is excited to offer a half day training on November 14th  (8:00 – 11:00, Aspen) that will focus on building an understanding of why many students struggle with Academic Language, even when English is spoken in students’ homes. We will examine how proficiency in the language of school impacts academic success and look at the role Native American residual language plays in Academic Language acquisition. During this training, teachers will receive their students’ English Language proficiency scores and apply language data to classroom instruction. Teachers will walk away with a wide range of strategies that they can use to support Academic Language growth of their Native American English Learners, as well as other students with Academic Language needs in their classroom.

If you are interested in this professional development opportunity, contact Carol Paul, 268 -6779 or Irina Mills, 268-6056.

Subs are limited. Sign up today!


The Salvation Army 2018 Holiday Assistance Program

Application Information for The Salvation Army 2018 Holiday Assistance Program


Safe Schools Online Safety Training – Chance to Win a $50.00 Gift Card 

School Safety Starts With YOU!

During the months of October and November, 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:

Instructions:

  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 November 30th with the winners being announced the following week.

STEM Mini Grants

Tree with red apple at bottom Great Falls Public Schools Foundation

Attention Teachers,

How would you like to provide an additional enriching science opportunity for your students? Unfortunately, there will be no formal district-wide STEAM EXPO this year. However, that doesn’t mean students should stop questioning, investigating, and hypothesizing under your guidance.

If you love science and are willing to support your students with STEM related projects or project-based learning projects, we have an opportunity for you!

We are working with the Foundation to offer a “Project Based Learning-STEM Focused Mini Grant.” With this $300 grant, you will be able to provide an authentic, real world, impactful experience for your students.

The applications will open on October 15 and close on December 14. Please click here to access the application. For questions regarding the grant, please contact Shelly Kelly at x6037 or shelly_kelly@gfps.k12.mt.us. For technical questions regarding the application, please contact Lyndsay Lettre at x7401 or foundation@gfps.k12.mt.us.


Be Sure to Complete Your Health Screening and Health Risk Assessment!!

 

IF YOU HAVE COMPLETED YOUR HEALTH SCREENING AND RECEIVED A BILL FROM QUEST DIAGNOSTICS, PLEASE DISREGARD. THIS BILL WAS SENT IN ERROR.

Employees enrolled in Great Falls Public Schools health plan may earn a $55 per month premium contribution reduction by completing a biometric screening and online health risk assessment (HRA) questionnaire by December 31, 2018. This incentive is available to all enrolled employees, regardless of which plan you’re enrolled in or the number of family members enrolled. If your spouse is covered under your GFPS health plan then she/he must also complete a biometric screening and HRA by December 31, 2018 to earn the premium incentive.    

Any employee may participate in these screenings free of charge, regardless of health plan enrollment.

  1. Complete Your Biometric Screening First, if possible
    If possible, we recommend that you complete your biometric screening prior to your HRA. This will provide you with current biometric values to enter into the health assessment. Because the screenings are being provided by a new vendor, your biometric values will not be uploaded to your HRA as they were previously.
  2. How Do I Schedule My Biometric Screening?
    Cascade County Community Health Care Centers will provide biometric screenings October 1 – December 28.

To schedule an appointment at any Community Health Care Center location, call 406-454-6973.

Community Health Care Center locations and hours are listed below. Please note the Holiday Hours.

Community Health Care Center Main Clinic
115 4th Street South
Great Falls, MT  59401
Hours:  Mon – Thurs: 7:00 am – 6:00 pm
Fri: 7:00 am – 5:00 pm

School-based Health Center at Paris Gibson
2400 Central Ave
Great Falls, MT  59401
Hours:  Mon: 7:30 am – 4:30 pm
Wed: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm

School-based Health Center at Giant Springs
520 32nd Street North
Great Falls, MT  59401
Hours:  Thurs: 7:30 am – 4:30 pm
MUST SHOW ID AT FRONT OFFICE BEFORE ACCESSING HEALTH CLINIC

You may also “walk-in” to complete your biometric screening without an appointment during clinic hours of operation.  Please be aware that walk-in participants may be subject to wait times. Service will be provided first to those who have scheduled an appointment.

Holiday Hours:

  • All CHCC Clinics will be closed for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • School clinics will be closed when schools are closed.
  • The main clinic will be open the day before and the day after Thanksgiving.

The main clinic will be open the day before and the day after Christmas.

  3. What Tests Will Be Performed at the Biometric Screening?
a.  Height and weight will be measured for calculating body mass index (BMI)
b.  Your blood pressure will be measured (please wear sleeves that can be easily rolled up)
c.  A venous blood draw will be taken for the following tests:
Total Cholesterol
HDL Cholesterol
Blood Glucose
LDL Cholesterol (if fasting)
Triglycerides (if fasting)
4.   Is Fasting Required?

a.  Fasting is highly encouraged for accurate test results.
b.  It is not required to meet the requirement for the Engaged incentive
  5.  How Long Will it Take to Complete My Biometric Screening?
Biometric screening appointments take approximately 20 minutes. Expect to spend a few additional minutes if you chose to receive a flu shot.
  6.  Can I Submit Results from a Previous Health Screening?
Yes.  If you have completed the health screening tests outlined in #3 between June 1 – December 31, 2018, you may submit these results using a Physician Form.  The form must be signed by your physician. To obtain a Physician Form, go to http://gfpsweb.weebly.com/benefits.html.
Physician Forms should be returned directly to CHCC. Instructions for return will be provided on the form.
  7.  How Do I Complete My Health Risk Assessment?
You can access the health risk assessment from the Blue Access for Members home page (BAM). You’ll find a link to the BCBS “Well on Target” wellness portal or directly to the Health Assessment.
If you don’t have a BAM account, use the “Blue Access for Members Registration Member Flier” PDF located on http://gfpsweb.weebly.com/benefits.htmlThere are additional benefits to having a BAM account, listed on the first page of the flier.
You can also access the Well On Target portal directly – see page two of the Well on Target Flier:  http://gfpsweb.weebly.com/benefits.html.
Regardless of which way you create your account, the same username and password will provide you with access to both Blue Access for Members (BAM) and Well On Target.
If you have questions about the health risk assessment of the Well on Target program, contact BlueCross BlueShield of Montana at 877-806-9380.
  8.  What Happens Next?
If you successfully complete both activities needed to earn the Engaged incentive by December 31, 2018, you will continue receiving the Engaged premium incentive.
If you or your spouse (if enrolled) do not complete one or both of the activities needed to earn the Engaged incentive by December 31, you will experience a $55/month increase in your health plan premium contribution effective in January, 2019.

A nurse from a Community Health Care Center may reach out to you to recommend and schedule follow up services if you can benefit from additional services or programs offered by Community Health Care Centers.


District Rental House Available

Gray and White House that is if rent

The District has a three bedroom, two-bathroom house with a garage for rent ($1,100 per month).  It is located at 820 4th Avenue North (next to Whittier Elementary School).   It comes with a clothes washer and dryer.  Tenant will be responsible for gas and electricity.   To arrange a tour, please contact Brian Patrick at 268-6050.