November Message

Posted by Rob Watson on 11/7/2019 6:00:00 PM

Winter Weather and school delays and closures

We are approaching the winter season and we want to make sure you know where to find information regarding any weather related delays or cancellations to our normal school schedule.

When school is delayed or cancelled due to weather, it is our District’s goal to notify families, students and the public by 6:15 a.m. This decision is based on input from local law enforcement, our transportation partner Beach Transportation, and our own staff research of current road conditions.

We post notifications about delays or cancellations on our district website homepage at This information will also be posted on each school’s website homepage. We also post the information on our district Mobile App, as well as the MCPS Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

For those families that opt to receive emails, phone calls and text messages from the Districts mass notification system, you will receive a notice directly via phone, email and text.

Finally, you will see the information reported by local media on the radio and television as well as their own websites. When looking at reports on local media, be sure that you look for notices related to Missoula County Public Schools or School District #1. Sometimes other schools in the area are affected and our 18 schools remain on normal schedules. If in doubt, check one of our MCPS websites or social media accounts.

For more information visit the MCPS Communications Office webpage.

Serious health issues tied to vaping

As you know, vaping is on the rise among teens across the country and the data from the Montana Youth Risk Behavior Study shows that over 55% of our high school students and 31% of our 7th and 8th grade students have tried vaping at least once. At the state level, 58% of high school students and 28% of 7th and 8th grade students report that they have tried vaping at least once. While many of our students report they have experimented with these devices, most are not current users.  As an educator, I share the concerns of many regarding these statistics and the dangers of these products.

The Surgeon General has stated that we should protect our children from a lifetime of nicotine addiction and associated health risks by immediately addressing the epidemic of youth e-cigarette use. According to the Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program:

  • Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm brain development, which continues until age 25.
  • E-cigarette aerosol can contain ultrafine particles and cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Youth who use e-cigarettes are 4 times more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.
  • The long-term health effects of e-cigarette use are unknown.

There are now over 20 reported deaths nationwide and one in Montana due to mysterious lung illnesses tied to vaping and vaping products.

In light of this public health issue, the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) announced this week that they will implement emergency administrative rules starting on October 22, 2019 to temporarily prohibit the sale of all flavored e-cigarette products, including flavored nicotine, THC, and CBD vaping products, in-store and online.

Please visit our for information about:

  • What have we done as a school community to address vaping
  • The consequences of a student at possessing, using or selling tobacco products on campus
  • What you can do as a parent

Thank you for your consideration in this important matter.

English Language Arts and Math Curriculum work in classrooms across the District

English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum is in the second year of implementation district wide. Elementary classrooms have started the year setting up their Daily 5 systems with students in their classrooms.  By the end of this year, all schools will be implementing the IRLA, which is part of the three-legged foundation of our elementary ELA curriculum model. This independent reading level assessment developed by the American Reading Company provides teachers with specific data that can direct their actions for individual students around building reading proficiency.

Jeannette Rankin, Lowell, and Paxson Elementary will be implementing the IRLA with the support of reading coaches from the American Reading Company and the Teaching & Learning coaches.

Middle and high school teachers are continuing with their  Engage NY implementation.

At the high school level, we are seeing where teacher insights have informed our implementation to make sure we are bringing Indian Education for All (IEFA) into our teaching of ELA curriculum. High school English teachers in collaboration with the Indian Education Department selected the novel There There for use in 10th grade classrooms and many of those teachers participated in the UM President’s Lecture Series last week with the author Tommy Orange.

Math curriculum is in its first year of implementation in K-9 classrooms. In our elementary schools, this year’s focus is learning about the pedagogical approach found in our new Ready Classroom math materials. Three main components in the new materials are discourse-driven mathematical classrooms, connecting mathematical understandings across grade levels, and empowering all learners. These materials also reflect the new mathematical standards that came out when we adopted the Montana Standards. After focusing on the pedagogical approach found in the Ready Classroom and iReady (online) math materials in three trainings this school year, the elementary classrooms will roll out the new teaching materials to students in 2020-21.

In 6-9th grade classrooms, the new math curriculum materials (also known as Carnegie) are being rolled out with the primary goal of having teachers learn about the materials and become familiar with the new content. Math teachers came together in 3-day trainings this summer to be ready to roll out the new content in their classrooms this school year. These teachers are also using their collaborative Professional Learning Community (PLC) time to problem solve and focus on prioritized standards found in the curriculum. The Carnegie curriculum materials are aligned with the Montana Standards and they focus on creating collaborative rather than individual learning about math along with a shift to students doing more of the cognitive work in their math classrooms. The online Mathia component of our math curriculum provides students with individualized attention on an adaptive system that also provides teachers with data about students’ areas of strength and weakness that need to be addressed. Students should spend 70-90 minutes per week on Mathia.  This instructional resource is being used within the math classes as well as during intervention and enrichment time in middle schools. Carnegie coaches will travel to our district monthly to work with teachers and will rotate through every classroom throughout the year to ensure that every math teacher receives side by side coaching and support in the first year of implementation.