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Montana Office of Public Instruction's Executive Staff

OPI Staff

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Dear Montana School Leaders,

Photo of Elsie Arntzen

May 2, 2017

With the legislative session ending, OPI will begin working to best serve schools over this new biennium. I will also be focusing additional attention on updating and building upon Montana's ESSA plan for the U.S. Department of Education and visiting communities around the state. Below are some highlights from the legislative session and updates on Montana's ESSA plan:

Legislative Wrap-Up:

The legislature adjourned sine die on April 28, 2017:

· HB 2: The state budget bill allocates $1,599,515,855 in General Fund money to schools in the 2019 biennium. HB 191 provides inflationary increases of 0.5% in FY 2018 and 1.86% in FY 2019 for the basic and per-ANB (Average Number Belonging).
· Special Education: I advocated for a $1.4 million OTO inflationary increase for special education over the biennium. The legislature increased K-12 Base Aid for special education by $1.44 million for the 2019 biennium.
· Data for Achievement: The legislature restored Data for Achievement payments which will help schools offset the costs associated with data reporting.
· Natural Resource Development (NRD) Payments: NRD payments for the biennium have been eliminated which will result in tax shifts to local property taxpayers. I have always advocated for the state to uphold its responsibility for education funding and not shift taxes to local communities.
· Other Education-Related Legislation: These included important issues such as suicide prevention, mental health awareness, safety, Native American education, facilities, and college and career readiness. For a full list of legislation and session outcomes, you can view my legislative wrap-up here.

ESSA Update:

We are having robust meetings with stakeholders and community leaders across the state. These meeting are with smaller focus groups as we move through each topic and new requirement to build on the work that has already been done.

We will provide the public with a draft plan in July so that we have time to utilize the feedback and make changes before we give a revised draft to the governor. We will have documents coming out as we complete work on each section or item number so that we are continually sharing and receiving feedback and input.

We will submit our plan using the revised template for the September 18th submission window.

For updates and suggestions, check out the ESSA section of OPI's website:

Website and Social Media:

· Website: OPI is in the process of developing a new website which will be more user friendly, easy to navigate, mobile friendly, and contain relevant and up-to-date information. It will be complete before the beginning of the next school year.

· Don't forget to follow me on Facebook:

In closing, please do not hesitate to get in touch if the Office of Public Instruction can be of service to your communities.

Thank you for Putting Montana Students First,

Elsie Arntzen
Superintendent of Public Instruction

Spotlight On:

2017 Prudential "Spirit of Community" Montana Honorees

Congratulations to Sophia Skwarchuk of Flathead High School and Hannah Halvorson of Laurel Middle School on being named Montana's 2017 State Honorees by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards! Thank you for your dedication to community service and for making Montana proud!