Welcome New Military Families
Great Falls Public Schools, Malmstrom Air Force Base, the Montana Air National Guard, and the Great Falls business community welcome you to Great Falls.
Great Falls is a community that strives for strong partnerships between the schools, the military, and the local community. We value our new families and look forward to having you participate in our community.
It is our goal to help create a smooth transition for incoming students by providing all of the information you need, by honoring what students have done in previous academic settings, and by providing academic and social-emotional support to transferring students.
Please feel free to visit our schools at any time to make informed decisions about your children’s education. We look forward to serving you and your family.
Welcome to Great Falls!
The Great Falls Public Schools website provides incoming families with a wealth of information. Here you will find information on “How to Register”, Board policies, and Student Handbook information. If you are not able to find answers to questions you may have, you may contact the Assistant Superintendent’s offices (Elementary 268-6006 or Secondary 268-6008) for further assistance.
Guide for Parents, School Officials and Administrators Regarding Transitions for Military Students, click here
Frequently Asked Questions about Our District
Does Malmstrom have a base/DOD School?
No, but the majority of the students attend Loy Elementary School, North Middle School, and C. M. Russell High School
What are our transportation options?
Buses run from MAFB to Loy, North Middle School and CM Russell High School. Click here for more information.
Do all ages/grades ride together?
Elementary students ride together. Middle School students may occasionally ride with High School students. Currently all students are transported separately. Click here for more information.
What are the grade tiers?
Elementary consists of grades K-6, Middle 7-8 and High School is 9-12. Board policy 2105R.
What are my private/Christian school options?
Great Falls does have several options for a Christian based education. Central Catholic High School • (406) 216-3344; Our Lady of Lourdes School • (406) 452-0551; Holy Spirit Catholic School • (406) 761-5775; Foothills Community Christian • (406) 452-5276; and Treasure State Academy • (406) 727-5133.
Do we have to pay for high school sports?
Participation Requirements: Student must be passing 5 classes; Current Physical; Participation Fees: $30.00 for first extracurricular activity, $50.00 for two or more activities. Students who qualify for free or reduced school lunch shall be granted a 50% reduction of the participation fees. Click here for more information.
If my child is an athlete and comes to the school mid-season, does he/she still have the option to play?
Yes, your child is welcome to play, but it will be challenging to catch up and be a thriving part of the team. Some high school teams would require a tryout and it may not be possible to make the team. Contact the school for open gym schedules and practice schedules. See Athletics.
What camps and for what sports does Great Falls have to help my athlete keep up with their sport of choice during the off season?
During the summer there are several sports camps at both high schools offered by coaches, at the Heisey Youth Center, and the Great Falls Community Rec Center, and Great Falls Soccer Association for elementary and middle school age children. At the high schools, many sports require attendance at open gyms and camps. Please verify with your respective coach to determine what options are available. See Athletics.
What standardized tests will my child take – at what age – what time of year?
State Testing – Students participate in the annual Montana Comprehensive Assessment System (Mont-CAS) in the spring months. Students in Grades 3-8, and 11 will take the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) tests for Mathematics and English Language Arts in April and May of each year. Students in Grades 4, 8, and 10 will participate in the Measured Progress Science assessment in March. High School Juniors (Gr. 11) can also participate in the ACT test free of charge in April/May each year.
Formative Benchmarks Tests – GFPS also utilizes a number of standardized benchmark tests for pre-testing, placement, and benchmarking purposes throughout the year. The purpose of these assessments is to identify a student’s areas of strengths and areas they need growth, which help teachers identify proper instructional interventions. Students in Grades K-6 participate in the NWEA Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) test three times a year (Fall/Winter/Spring). Students in middle & high schools participate in the SMI and ISIP tests twice a year.
District Common Assessments – These tests are locally created and implemented by classroom teachers as directly aligned to the local curriculum. The assessments are given in content areas or courses typically not covered by the state assessments (i.e. Social Studies, Science, Health/PE, etc.) at various times throughout the year.
What are the lunch options? Prices?
Prices can fluctuate from year to year. Breakfast is offered at certain schools throughout the district. To check your child’s school menus and prices, click here.
Do I have the option to choose what school my child attends if there is room?
All students shall attend the school in their designated attendance areas according to the residential address of their parent(s) or legal guardian as of the first day of school. If you would rather your child attend a different school, a permissive transfer form must originate from the transferring school (area where student’s parents or legal guardian reside). Forms are available at each school building. Permissive transfers will only be considered if classroom space is available at the requested school and is often granted, but not guaranteed. It is up to the parent to check with the school to see if space is available. Additionally, transportation, to a school that is not assigned, will not be provided. Board policy 3110R.
What support is there if my child does not speak fluent English?
Great Falls Public Schools works to best meet the needs of English Language Learners, both Limited English Proficient (LEP) and English as a Second Language (ESL) students. The district has established a framework to guide staff in recognizing needs and support available for English Language Learners. Classroom teachers are supported by a part-time ESL teacher and Title Teacher on Special Assignment. English Language Learner Services, click here.
What if my child does not have and IEP but needs additional support in the classroom?
Every school strives to help every student. If your child needs added support please let his school counselor know and they will provide your child with the help they need. See Student Services.
What are afterschool care options?
The District has an after school assistance program called HANDS (Heroes and Neighbors Down at The School). The HANDS child care program provides before and afterschool supervision for school aged children 5-12 years old. More information on HANDS, click here or call 268-6932. MAFB also provides after school help through their Youth Activities Center. The Youth Center's can be reached at 731-4634.
Are there city leagues?
The City of Great Falls does all of the cities adult recreational city leagues. City of Great Falls Park and Recreation; The Heisey Youth Center and Salvation Army at 406-453-0391, also offers programs for youth.
What testing is done and when to determine if my child meets the MT/GFPS standards for a gifted child?
A variety of data including achievement, cognitive ability, attribute observations, and portfolio materials will be used to identify students who demonstrate or show potential gifts and talents. Student referrals will be accepted from parents and or teachers. All parent referrals will be honored with a discussion based on data. See Extended Curriculum Services.
What are the average class sizes?
Depending upon the class and school, class sizes can range from 20-30. Very few are over 30.
Great Falls is very far away from most other cities and towns…how does this effect school functions and competitions?
At the High School level extracurricular activities travel all over the state. Charter buses are used to travel throughout the state of Montana. Choirs, bands and orchestras also travel across the Northwest. See Board policy 2320/2320R.
What is your HS arts program like? Is it going to continue?
See your student’s school counselor. They can provide you with school specific information about their course offerings.
Do you require uniforms?
No, uniforms are not required in the public schools. However, the district does support a dress code. Please refer to the Student Handbook for dress code policy.
What kind of physical education is provided in the schools if any?
PE and Health Enhancement are offered in all grade levels. Elementary PE/Health Enhancement curriculum: Middle School Grade 7, Grade 8; High School.
My child has a medical condition that requires medication. Is there a nurse available?
A student who must take any medicine during the school day which requires school personnel to assist in the self-administration of medication must bring a written request from his or her parent and the medicine in its original, properly labeled container, to the school office. A physician's form is needed for prescription medications and long-term medications. Forms are available in the school office and through a physician. More information can be found in the student handbook and board policy 3416.
Do kids still have to go to school when it snows?
Yes, it is the belief of the school district that children are provided a safe and secure place during weather events while at school. It is a rare occasion that schools are closed due to weather. In the event of severe weather, the Superintendent would decide to close schools. Board policy 2221.
If there is a school closure, where would that information be found?
The Great Falls Public Schools rarely close due to weather. Click here for Superintendent's message. More information on school closure due to weather can be found here.
Do kids still go outside if it is snowing?
Yes, kids will still have outside recess. Building principals monitor the weather and decide to keep students inside during extreme weather. We encourage parents to make sure their students are dressed appropriately for inclement weather.
Do you offer a pre-k or headstart program?
GFPS Preschool serves 4-year old children living in the areas of Longfellow, Whittier, West and Sunnyside Elementary Schools. It also serves 3-5 year old children identified through Part B IDEA. Opportunities, Inc. offers a Headstart Program for more information call 453-5415.
Is kindergarten offered full day or half day?
Great Falls Public schools offer full day kindergarten program.
Do you offer resources for students with special need?
Yes, GFPS offers various services for students will special needs. For more information see Student Services or call 268-6027.
Is there a gifted and talented program?
Yes, GFPS offers an Extended Curriculum Services for students identified as “gifted or talented”. For more info, click here.
How do academics in Montana compare to other states?
For information of the state of Montana’s academic performance, you can access this information on The Office of Public Instruction website.
What kind of supplies will students require for school?
Currently the school supply lists are posted on the district website. Each elementary school posts their supply list on their webpages as well. In late summer, several of the main stores in Great Falls have hard copies available for shoppers.