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Rob's Notes: Fall 2022
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School Administrators of Montana                Rob’s Notes: Fall 2022        Updated Dec 8, 2022

Quick Bits



SAM Legislative Platform and Priorities: Scheduled for approval at the SAM membership meeting, at MCEL 10/21, 8am.

SAM Positions & Resolutions

Participate in the SAM Legislative Network: SAMLN 23 - all are welcome!

Register here for SAM LN25

Nominate a Principal for Principal of the Year. MAEMSP and MASSP nominations are due DECEMBER 16!

Find the nomination forms HERE.

State Issues


Rob’s notes


Other Info

OPI: Education Priorities & possible legislation

Legislative priorities include: (1) gain approval of House Bill 2, funding base aide, as early in the session as possible. (2) Support new licensure system, TeachMT, by redirecting revenue from licensure fees to OPI, currently go to Board of Public Ed. (3) Financial support for one-time-only funds for new audiology equipment for hearing screening. (4) Mental Health and tuition payments for residential programs. In comment, Supt Arntzen also spoke of development of a universal screener.

In early December, the OPI released a list of additional legislative priorities. OPI has also planned four community forums for the early weeks of December: Kalispell, Stevensville, Great Falls and Billings. Local legislators have been invited to attend these forums.  It is assumed that OPI will discuss their latest legislative priorities at the community forums scheduled for December.

OPI Priority Legislative List - Provided to Int Ed Committee, Sept 12, 2022

Additional OPI Legislative Priorities, From OPI December Newsletter

Superintendent Artzen’s community forum.

This information was been updated in December 2022

Open Enrollment: Proposed Legislation

We are in the early stages of hearing about various bill drafts that will require all districts to accept out-of-district students. Currently in state law, this acceptance is discretionary. See MCA 20-5-320. If passed, all districts would be required to approve out-of-district, unless they can show a legitimate reason to deny, for example lack of space. The Coalition of Education Partners is working to help draft reasonable language to provide limits to this potential legislation.

MCA 20-5-320

Enrollment with discretionary approval

Recommendations from Coalition of Advocates for Education, updated Dec 5

Current bill placeholder is LC 0732: Generally revise education laws to enhance educational opportunities. Marta Bertoglio, HD 75

Chapter 55: School Accreditation, proposed changes to rule

Negotiated rule making has completed. The changes to rule have been proposed to the Board of Public Ed. An overview of timeline:

  • Oct 7 - Nov 4: Public Comment Period
  • Oct 31 Public Hearing
  • Jan 12: BPE meeting for possible approval
  • July 2023: Effective date of changes

SAM has created a list of potential concerns and questions related to the proposed changes. Please see the links section.

Consensus Statement from MT-PEC partners. (10/19)

Chapter 55: Full text of proposed changes from OPI presented to the BPE

Public comment process - See Board of Public website

SAM running record of questions and concerns related to Chapter 55 rule changes.

UPDATE: Nov 17 - BPE met to discuss the proposed recommendations from OPI with regard to public comment.

The Board voted to reject the OPI recommendations and retain ALL the ratios outlined in current accreditation rules.

Powerschool and Infinite Campus

There has been recent discussion about the use of powerschool at the state level, which has created some questions for Districts using IC. This discussion has been created by the need for OPI to establish an umbrella tech system that would allow all their individual systems to talk with each other. This system upgrade was inspired by legislation in the 2021 session that provided funding ($14M) for OPI to upgrade their system. Powerschool has created a product called “Connected Intelligence,” which is one of many systems being considered. Even if this system is deployed at OPI, Districts and OPI can still utilize IC for student data management. There appears to be no push from OPI to stop using IC and no requirement for Districts to go to PS.

MCA 20-7-104 (section a) provides the requirements for OPI to engage in a data modernization system as put in place during the 2021 legislative session.

OPI was provided $14M from state ESSER funds to engage in this process of data modernization.

To date, it is unclear if OPI has engaged in a process for data modernization, other than the TEACH MT platform for teacher licensure.

The Govn’s Office and Department of Labor is exploring the powerschool product.

Personalized Learning Concept Bill: Draft Legislation by Education Partners

This bill is currently being drafted by a few of SAM’s educational partners. The concept of the bill is that schools who can show they are addressing student needs through personalized learning can avoid charter schools from opening in their communities. It is assumed that Senator Jones will introduce this bill as a moderate charter school bill.

Personalized Learning Concept Bill: Introduced at MCEL, Oct 2022.

LC 0110:

Proposed legislation - super majority for levies

This bill is currently being drafted, so there is no exact bill language yet. The short title of the bill is “Require super majority to pass voted mill levies.” Currently levies require a 50% + 1 vote to pass. Assuming that this bill would change the required percentage to pass to 66%.

Currently being drafted - no bill language yet.

Bill requested by Senator Llew Jones.

PD 39:

Proposed legislation - remove ANB funding for Early K Programs

In September, proposed legislation was introduced and passed by the Interim Education Budget Committee. The proposal would limit K programs to single-year programs, effectively eliminating the funding when admitting students for early K under the current “exceptional circumstances” flexibility. This proposal was introduced because there is a belief that the flexibility is being “abused” and districts have used the flexibility to create funded PreK programs.

PD 39: Draft Legislation

The proposed legislation passed the Int Ed Budget Committee but failed to pass the Legislative Finance Committee. It will likely still be introduced in the session.

Facial Recognition Technology - Use of security cameras in schools.

The Economic Affairs Interim Legislative committee was tasked with a study regarding the use of facial recognition technology. In general this technology is being used in some law enforcement environments. However, more recently there are 3rd party vendors (Verkada) that are selling camera systems to be used in schools that have the capability for facial recognition. On Oct 3, the committee held a hearing to discuss the proposed use in schools and any potential legislative oversight that should be considered.

Legislative committee hearing - Oct 3, 2022

Committee Final Report - Behind the Mask: HJ 48 Study on FRT

MTSBA Model Policies - 3235 Video Surveillance & 3650 Pupil Online Personal Information Protection

No legislation has been drafted yet, however schools that are using this technology should be aware of the student data privacy concerns and what is being shared with 3rd party vendors.

SAM: Legislative Priorities

  1. Support adequate and equitable funding for Montana Schools.
  2. Oppose privatization with public funds.
  3. Support recruitment and retention of quality educators.
  4. Support school based mental health services.
  5. Support facility and technology infrastructure.

SAM Delegate Assembly Legislative Platform

Scheduled for approval from SAM membership on 10/20/22.

OPI: Education Priorities & possible legislation

At the Interim Ed Committee (Sept 12), Supt Arntzen discussed the work of her office and the priorities for the school year.

Work of the OPI: currently OPI is focusing on the MAST (assessment pilot), exploring data modernization (intro of the TeachMT - new licensure system), and support for OPI staff (currently 76 of 154 are working remotely).

Legislative priorities include: (1) gain approval of House Bill 2, funding base aide, as early in the session as possible. (2) Support new licensure system, TeachMT, by redirecting revenue from licensure fees to OPI, currently go to Board of Public Ed. (3) Financial support for one-time-only funds for new audiology equipment for hearing screening. (4) Mental Health and tuition payments for residential programs. In comment, Supt Arntzen also spoke of development of a universal screener.

OPI Priority Legislative List - Provided to Int Ed Committee, Sept 12, 2022

Board of Public Education: Shared education goals with OPI.

At the BPE meeting on Sept 15, the Board shared a list of education goals and priorities with Supt. Arntzen for OPI feedback.

Here were the topics:

  • Fully fund base aid for schools.
  • Define proficiency-based learning.
  • Transform the teaching profession.
  • Support early childhood learning.
  • Promote CTE.
  • Support the Montana Seal of Biliteracy.
  • Support recruitment and retention.
  • Discuss relationship between CSPAC, MACIE, OPI and the Board.

Over the next few months, the OPI and BPE will establish shared position statements on these topics.

Watch the discussion between BPE and OPI, Thursday, Sept 15.  Discussion starts at 8:41.

Legislative Education Interim Committee: Education focus areas to increase student opportunities and improve educational outcomes.

On Sept 13, the Education Interim Committee met with other constitutional education partners; OPI, MTSBA, Board of Regents, and Board of Public Ed. to discuss educational focus areas:

  • Proficiency-based learning
  • Transforming the teaching profession and increase retention of teachers
  • Career and Technical Education
  • Early Childhood Education

Watch the joint meeting between the constitutional education partners - Sept 13, 2022.

Math Standards:

OPI review to start 2022/23

In September, OPI recommended to the Board a new revision cycle for Math Content Standards. An overview of the timeline:

  • Sept - April: Research & Review
  • May - Oct (23) Revision
  • Sept 2024: Adoption
  • July 2025: Implementation

See Board of Public Ed agenda packet from Sept 2022, Page 101

Teacher Retirement System:

Proposed rule changes - Draft Legislation

In August, the TRS board approved proposed rule changes. These rules would need to be approved by the 2023 Legislature and would not take effect until July 2023. Of interest to SAM members:

  • Changes to the independent contractor rule may make it more difficult for Districts to contract, and may impact MACCS members.
  • Working retirees could come back after 120 days break in service, currently 150.
  • In addition, they could earn 49% of their former income, currently 33%.
  • Superintendents could be added back in the emergency hire provision, which would allow a retired Supt to earn salary plus maintain/earn retirement benefits. Supts were eliminated in the 2021 legislature.

See TRS Board Packet from August 2022, page 21.

SAM has advocated for a reduction from 120 days to 90 days break in service. The TRS board was not in favor of this recommendation.

MAST: OPI Assessment Pilot

The OPI is seeking districts to participate in an assessment pilot. The Montana Alternative Assessment (MAST) Pilot of the innovative through-year assessment system addresses long standing challenges with assessments, such as summative assessments that are disconnected to formative assessments; unusable summative assessments for student learning, too much testing time, misalignment to curriculum, unusable assessment results to students and families.

The OPI needs districts to be part of this pilot.  It is grades 5 and 7 using a testlet system which is short formative assessments that take about 10 minutes to complete each testlet. The pilot needs 1600 students for each grade, each test and 30 districts.

MAST Pilot Website with training videos

OPI One-Pager: Description of MAST Pilot.

MAST Pilot: FAQ Document

MAST Assessment Pilot - Invitation Letter to Supt.

SAM supports the OPI in implementing this pilot. SAM supports the end goal of modifying the state assessment to make it more useful for leaders and staff.

As of Sept 30 - OPI reported to SAM that they have enough schools / students for this pilot.

Federal Issues


Rob’s notes


Other Info


AASA letter requesting an extension to spend ESSER funds as well as guidance

Several MT Supts and Districts signed onto an AASA letter requesting more guidance from USDE regarding ESSER as well as an extension to spend the ESSER funds.

AASA Letter to Sec. Cardona, Dated Aug 29.

Educator Shortage: 

AASA Survey Results

Nine out of every ten school districts nationwide report up to 10% of their instructional staff positions are unfilled as we move into the 2022-23 school year, according to a survey administered by AASA. In addition, one in five district leaders report staff vacancies are 6-10% higher now than a year ago.

AASA Educator Shortage Report, Sept 2022

Loan Forgiveness Education Act: Bill to include school leaders in this opportunity.

On 9/15/22, Senator Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico introduced the Loan Forgiveness for Educators Act. This bill would dramatically expand student loan forgiveness for educators serving in high needs areas and make principals and other school leaders eligible.

NASSP Advocacy - option to write an email to congress