Welcome to the 2019-2020 School Year!

Posted by Rob Watson on 8/28/2019

Dear MCPS Families,

I am excited to welcome you and your students to another great school year in MCPS. Some of you are just joining our school district for the first time as parents of high school freshman, or you have recently moved to Missoula and this is your first time in our schools.

I too am starting my first school year as your Superintendent and I can say with pride that our school staff are excited to work with your students this year.  We share a common goal of seeing your student succeed and we know that it will be an important partnership between the school and the family to make that happen.

I also wanted to share a few exciting updates as we start the school year:

Seatbelts on school buses:  Last Friday I sent you a message about the seatbelts that have been added to two-thirds of our school buses. Please remind your student to buckle up if they are on a bus with seatbelts installed.

MCPS ParentLink:  This week you will receive some exciting news from Hatton Littman, our Communications Director, about MCPS ParentLink. This is our upgraded mass notification system that will enable you to customize your communication preferences and allow all teachers as well as schools and the district to share important information with you via text, email, and phone. Keep an eye out for her message and be sure to log into ParentLink.

Smart Snacks in School:  Since 2014, we have been in implementing various stages of our District Wellness Policy. This school year, we are focusing on encouraging healthy snacks when food is served during classroom parties and school celebrations. We are also taking a look at fundraisers and encouraging healthy snacks that align with our District Wellness Policy. Keep an eye out for messages related to our District Wellness Policy in the coming weeks.

Changes in the school lunch program at Hawthorne, Russell, Lowell and Franklin, C.S. Porter:   Previously, Missoula County Public Schools offered breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students at eight of our schools each day through an opportunity called Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). This program was phased out in three schools in the fall of 2018 (Chief Charlo, Paxson and Meadow Hill) and phased out in five additional schools (Franklin, Hawthorne, Lowell, Russell and C.S. Porter) at the end of the 2019 school year.

Due to a negative financial impact on food service, CEP is no longer a viable option for Missoula County Public Schools.  MCPS will continue to offer a healthy breakfast and lunch to students during the school day, but will return to the previous system of collecting household applications for households that wish to apply for free or reduced price meals.

Keep an eye out for letters with Free and Reduced Price Lunch applications from from your school this fall. Even if the paperwork has not been submitted yet, we make sure that every student who needs a meal is served a breakfast or lunch while we await the paperwork. 

If any member of your household receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) benefits, your child automatically qualifies for free meals.  You should receive a notification from MCPS informing you that you do not need to submit an application. If you or a household member receives SNAP, TANF, or FDIPR benefits, but you do not receive a notification, you may submit an application with your case number to qualify for free meals.

If you have any questions, or need assistance completing your application for free or reduced price meals, please contact Stacey Rossmller at 728-2400 ext. 3023 or email at slrossmiller@mcps.k12.mt.us 

English Language Arts and Math curriculum implementation:  This year marks the second year of implementation on our new English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum. Elementary parents will be learning about how they can help at home with student reading goals.  Middle and high school parents should continue to see evidence of their student learning through marked-up reading passages and in-depth writing assignments.

We will start the implementation of our new math curriculum this year with a focus on our middle school and 9th grade math classrooms.  If you have specific questions regarding the new curriculum, I would encourage you to reach out to your child’s math teacher.

School Year Calendar Change:  At our August board meeting, MCPS Trustees approved adjustments to the school calendar for the Preschool Program, Early Kindergarten Program, as well as all elementary, middle and urban high schools. The calendar change does not impact Seeley Swan High School.

MCPS was selected to host the AA and Class C high schools state track meets on May 22 & 23, 2020, as well as the state AA Softball tournament to occur the same weekend. Given the large amount of students who may participate in these events, as well as the staff who will help support the events as volunteers, Friday May 22, 2020 will now be an unscheduled/no school day for K-12, and the last day of the school year will be modified to June 11, 2020.

I look forward to meeting many of you as I make the rounds of the District on our first few days of school and at upcoming school events. 

Thanks for your partnership in education,

Rob Watson


Missoula County Public Schools