January 30, 2017
Issue No: 


Superintendent's Message

 Oops! We did it again!

I have only gone to Helena twice in the last two weeks, but there is a chance GFPS has come up a little more than that in the halls of the Capitol and in the halls of OPI.  Here’s why:
  • Thanks to Principal Uecker and a couple of his students, GFPS provided testimony at the hearing on a bill that would provide funding for 19-year olds.  Lots of legislators don’t want to pay for the education of students who just need a little more time.
  • We held a press conference with United Way that not only released our drop-out and on-time graduation rates, but also made it clear that we would continue with the Graduation Matters initiative with or without OPI and our new Superintendent of Public Instruction’s support.
  • I asked hard questions of Superintendent Arntzen about the so-called ACT testing issue at the Board of Public Education meeting week before last.  The free ACT test is a good thing for our students.
  • At the Elementary Principals’ Conference held here in Great Falls last week, I asked Ms. Arntzen if she could see a way forward for funding preschool.  When she answered that she wouldn’t “impede” it if the Legislature passed it, I told her I was “disheartened” by that answer.  I happen to think that because it would be her job to support the laws that she was elected to implement, that she would actually advocate for it if it were to be passed.  My comments have not been without criticism.  You can see some here as well as my response:
While I never want to distract from the hard and important work we do every day to ensure that our students achieve to their highest potential, I also will never cower from saying and doing what I believe is right for our kids, for all kids, and for every kid.  I know that there are many of you that feel the same way and that you speak up in your own ways.  I thank you for proving again and again that GFPS will be on the right side of history. That we will always advocate for our students and for the public education they deserve.  Oops!  We did it again…and we’re going to keep doing it!
Take care.  Be safe.  Stay well.

Speech & Debate Judges Needed

FEBRUARY 10 & 11, 2017
Please consider volunteering your time to help us meet our needs of 200 judges per round for this qualifying tournament!
Friday, February 10:
Speech Rounds at Great Falls High School     
4:00 PM               6:00 PM               8:00 PM
Debate Rounds at East Middle School
4:00 PM               6:00 PM               8:00 PM
Saturday, February 11:
Speech Rounds at Great Falls High School
9:00 AM       11:00 AM      2:00 PM    4:00 PM
Debate Rounds at East Middle School
8:00 AM  10:00 AM  12:00 PM  2:00 PM  3:30 PM  5:00PM
CONTACT Julie Easton at 268-6369 or at julie_easton [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us (julie_easton [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us)
Meals and snacks provided at both schools.

THANK YOU for supporting Montana students!  

Severance Pay for Retiring Teachers, 2017

Please remember that in order to be eligible for severance pay, a retiring teacher must submit a letter of resignation to the Board of Trustees no later than March 1, 2017 at 5:00 p.m., if terminating employment at the end of the second semester.  You are encouraged to forward your letter prior to this date.   You may wish to refer to Article 8.C of the Negotiated Agreement for further information.  Teacher Retirement System must be contacted and an irrevocable election form completed by March 10, 2017 in order to be eligible to deduct additional contributions from termination pay on a tax-deferred basis.  The Teacher Retirement System can be reached at 1-866-600-4045.

Human Resources Office 

PIR Facilitators

Call for PIR Facilitators for the 2017-2018 School Year
Details about 2017-2018 PIR Calendar/reminders:

· The date range is June 12, 2017 - April 30, 2018.

· All forms are due by Friday, March 3, 2017.

· Please be sure to avoid any holidays as well as MEA days and Wednesdays when scheduling your dates.

· PIR Sessions can be done as a single 6-hour session, two 3-hour sessions, or three 2-hour sessions.

If you are interested in facilitating or co-facilitating a PIR offering, please fill out the PIR Proposal Form ( no later than Friday, March 3rd.

For more information about PIR Facilitator Obligations and Pay, please visit the following link: 

MIET Tech Days

The MIET (Montana Institute on Educational Technology) Tech Days Conference is coming June 13 and 14, 2017 at Great Falls College MSU, and we need awesome presenters. 
Are you interested in being a facilitator? If so, let us know by filling out the form at the link below. Presenters will be compensated $75 for each hour and fifty-minute (110 minute) session they facilitate.
The Call for Presenters will be open until February 10, 2017.
(you may need to copy and paste the link into a browser)

If you have any questions about the conference or about presenting, please contact katiekotynski [at] msn [dot] com (Katie Kotynski) or charlene_ammons [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us (Charlene Ammons), Co-Chairs, MIET Board. 

Continuing Education Courses - MSU-Northern


MSU-Northern has partnered with VESi to provide online

courses that provide graduate or undergraduate level credit.
Courses offered for 2 or 3 Graduate and

Undergraduate level credits with fees of just $285.

Heisey Teacher Scholarships

Great Falls Public Schools Foundation’s
Heisey Teacher Scholarship Applications for 2017-2018 School Year
Now Open
  • Twenty $1,000 scholarships will be awarded competitively to school teachers in the Great Falls Public Schools District to help fund work toward a master’s degree, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification, academic work supporting Great Falls Public Schools’ District Goals, or an Endorsement, including; counseling, administration, special education, or any other field related to education. 
  • Twenty scholarships will be awarded throughout the district, with the intent of awarding support in multiple schools.  In the event that one or more schools do not have a qualified applicant, multiple scholarships may be awarded at the same school.
  • Teachers who have already completed a master’s degree may apply the scholarship to a second master’s degree or an advanced degree (Ph.D. or Ed.D.).
  • Scholarships may also be used for the purpose of working toward an advanced degree or securing an endorsement in a specific subject area, which is applicable to teaching. 
  • Scholarships may be utilized to fund the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Certification process.
  • Scholarships may be utilized to support academic work which would directly support the professional in their capacity of supporting district level goals and initiatives.
  • All monies must be expended within six months of the date the scholarship is awarded.
  • Any teacher presently holding a teaching position in the Great Falls School District and who is committed to signing a contract to teach in the school district for the school year following the scholarship award.
  • Online applications opened January 9, 2017
  • Application is available here.
  • Online applications will close on February 9, 2017
  • Competency as a teacher as indicated by letters of reference and other information presented to the committee.
  • Commitment to the profession as indicated by goals. 
  • Availability of job vacancies in the field, as well as needs of the district.

If you have any questions regarding the online application process, please contact Lyndsay Lettre at 268-7401 or at foundation [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us (foundation [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us).  General questions about the scholarship can be directed to Dave Crum at 268-7340 or at dave_crum [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us (dave_crum [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us). 

Email Etiquette, Issue II

This is the second of a series of recommendations on e-mail etiquette.  Today’s topic is on general formatting, addressing, content and tone when sending an e-mail.
  • Formalities help the sender appear professional. Formalities like an introductory “Hi James,” or “Dear Mr. Smith,” can have a big influence on how professional and courteous the sender seems. Even though this may seem unnecessary to some, it can affect how the message and the sender are perceived.
  • Tone matters and can be misinterpreted. It pays to read a message out loud and assess whether there is any chance for misinterpretation—rewording if necessary.
  • E-mail is not right for every type of message. For example, e-mail is not the place for a discussion that is overly long; this type of e-mail may not even get read and may exasperate the recipient. Remember that e-mails are often read on mobile devices—which exacerbates the problem with an overly-long message. Also, if you have a continuing e-mail conversation that has exchanged 5 or 6 times without conclusion, it may be best to pick up the phone or have a face to face discussion.
  • Context is helpful, even if the e-mail is a continuation of another conversation. E-mails may be referenced later when that conversation is long forgotten. Good e-mail etiquette dictates that a little context benefits both sender and receiver. It also shows that the sender is being courteous by not assuming the receiver will automatically understand and remember without context.
  • E-mail is forever. That means that what an employee or employer says now can be brought up later—both in company discussions and in legal matters. Choose words carefully. An e-mail absolutely can be grounds for dismissal if it shows evidence of significantly inappropriate behavior. E-mails can be used as evidence in legal matters, too—and just because it is deleted at the sender’s computer does not mean it’s gone.
  • How an employee comes across in e-mail will impact coworkers. If an employee is particularly curt or rude, it can make for an exhausting work environment and hurt productivity and morale. Think twice before sending a rude message, even when you are angry. It’s good practice to avoid e-mailing whenever tensions are high or whenever you are upset.
  • Clear and accurate subject lines are beneficial in helping the recipient with context. They should clearly indicate the subject and possibly even the required action. Having a clear and accurate subject line also helps with organizing messages and with the ability to search for the conversation in the future. Subject lines should be changed and/or a new e-mail thread started if the conversation changes to a new topic.
  • Correct spelling and punctuation. E-mails with typos are simply not taken as seriously and could even be interpreted as spam or phishing. Use proper and complete sentence structure. Start e-mails with a greeting (Hello, Dear, etc.) and end with a closing (Thank you, Sincerely, etc.).
  • Refrain from using Reply All. If the reply does not pertain to all the recipients, do not use Reply All. Saying “Thank you” to all when it was intended for the original sender is not appropriate and generally sets off an email storm increasing others e-mail unnecessarily.
  • Signature block. Keep signature blocks simple and limit to name, job title, company name, address and phone number.