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Montana’s Choice School Commission is fundraising for an executive director

School hallway showing students walking through in a blur.

A state panel setting up a new system of “community choice schools” says it’s raising money to hire an executive director amid a legal battle.

The seven-member, volunteer Community Choice School Commission has spent the last half-year preparing to eventually authorize a new venue for K-12 education in Montana: so-called “choice schools.”

Commission chair Trish Shreiber says the panel has launched a fundraising effort to pay for legal fees, education and an executive director to help bear the administrative load.

“As we start building out policy, it, like, multiplies,” Schreiber said in a phone interview. “It’s like ‘Gremlins.’”

Schreiber says the group has raised more than $27,000 in private donations so far. The law that created the commission didn’t grant it any immediate funding.

A district court judge last year enjoined the panel from approving new choice schools after a group of education advocates sued. The new schools would receive state funding but exist outside many of the rules governing public education, which plaintiffs have called unconstitutional.

Despite the block, commission member and head of fundraising Cathy Kincheloe says the panel is hoping to raise about $300,000 to help it accomplish its work.

“You know, it’s almost, kind of, a blessing to have this lawsuit over us at this point, because it’s really given us an opportunity to slow down and educate the commission,” Kincheloe said.

The law originally called for Montana’s first choice schools to open this fall, but it’s unclear when the legal challenge may be resolved.

Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.

He is best reached by emailing
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