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August interim education meeting held


August 29, 2017

Our summer Education Committee meeting began with State Librarian Jennie Stapp laying out how the state cuts are affecting not only the State Library, but also the outlying units. She has had a staff reduction of 25 percent, or 12 employees. Public Computer Access has also been reduced from six to two.

The next presenter was Bruce Whittenberg with the Montana Historical Society. Mr. Whittenberg stated that his program also has a staff reduction of 25.2 percent, leaving 15 positions unfilled. One of the programs being cut is the Capitol Tour Program, which means that future tours through the capitol will need to be self-guided, including school tours.

The Office of Public Instruction, lead by Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Amtzen, spoke about accessing K-12 information, Every Student Succeeds Act that has replaced the old No Child Left Behind Program and OPI’s policies. A report was given by Frank Podobnik explaining the Special Education funding for Special Needs and Gifted and Talented programs, teachers, and students. This included best practices and costs. One topic that remains at the top of conversation is recruitment and retention of teachers.

The afternoon was spent in a joint meeting with the Montana University System’s Commissioner of Higher Education Clayton Christian and three of the regents. The discussions ranged from how the Legislature and the regents interact to responsibilities of each entity. In the past, the joint parties have tried to set goals that would benefit the students, each of the schools, and the system as a whole. All said and done, the meeting was very informative and everyone came away with the common belief that our system of education needs some tweaks but is still working successfully.

Again, the best for everyone.

State Sen. Russ Tempel, R-Chester, can be emailed at sen.russ.tempel.@mt.gov.


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