Montana Public Radio

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Montana Gov. Steve Bullock says school districts won’t need to make up any in-person instructional time missed during the two-week statewide closure he ordered Sunday. Local school boards will, however, need to approve plans for remote learning and other services to maintain state funding if the closures are extended.

Missoula's Hellgate High School
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

The Montana Office of Public Instruction is asking Gov. Steve Bullock and the federal government to waive requirements for standardized testing and instructional time. The request comes days into the governor’s two-week public school closure order in response to the novel coronavirus.

The front entrance of Stevensville High School, which was built in 1958 and has had no renovations since the 1970s.
Stevensville Public Schools

Even as Montana's public K-12 schools sit closed over coronavirus concerns, work on the school system continues. Newly released data from the state of Montana provides a picture of just how much it costs to educate the state's students.

Released this week, the state's "report card" shows it cost an average of $10,474.64 to educate each student in the public school system last year. The actual cost varies depending on districts or schools.

School hallway. Stock photo.
iStock

Following Montana Gov. Steve Bullock's order Sunday to close public schools for two weeks due to detections of the novel coronavirus, districts around the state scrambled on Monday to set plans in place for remote learning and feeding students. Yellowstone Public Radio News Director Nicky Ouellet talks with MTPR's Aaron Bolton about how schools are responding to these detections.

School classroom
iStock

Montana Governor Steve Bullock has ordered all public K-12 schools in the state to close for two weeks following additional in-state cases of the novel coronavirus. About half a dozen patients have tested presumptively positive for the illness.

In a press release Sunday afternoon, Bullock said the step was taken to slow the spread of the virus and that the task force he assembled earlier this month would continue meeting to determine next steps.

School classroom
iStock

School districts across northwest Montana met with public health officials last week to begin preparing for potential impacts from the novel coronavirus. Flathead County health officials asked schools to give basic hygiene information to students and staff.

Public health officials want schools to craft plans for potential closures and remote instruction. Federal and state guidance does not suggest schools close in communities without coronavirus cases.

School hallway. Stock photo.
iStock

The U.S. Department of Education has agreed to delay a new rule that could pull significant funding from rural and low-income schools in Montana. The delay follows objections this week from Montana’s U.S. Senators and other high ranking members of Congress.

Drinking fountain.
Joseph Thomas Photography / iStock

KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Montana schools must test drinking water for lead content following state rule changes related to school health, officials said.

Schools may begin in March with a December 2021 deadline to complete testing, The Daily Inter Lake reported Sunday.

 

As the largest school district in Montana faces an over $4 million budget deficit, some are asking how the budget became so unbalanced. School administrators say the proposed cuts to staff and operations likely won't fully fix the problem.

Kendra Espinoza in her Kalispell home  Jan. 14, 2020. Espinoza’s family is front and center in the case before the U.S. Supreme Court, which will decide whether states like Montana can exclude religious schools from school choice programs.
Aaron Bolton / Montana Public Radio

Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments both for and against the Montana Supreme Court’s decision to shut down a school choice program it said violated the state constitution’s ban on public money flowing to religious schools. The case may decide whether Montana and other states can exclude religious schools from school choice programs.

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