Preparing for 2019-20 school year

Letter to the Editor
Thursday, April 18, 2019
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Greetings from the Hardin School Districts 17-H & 1 Administration Office.

It is simply amazing that the school year is quickly coming to an end and we are in full preparation for the upcoming 2019-2020 school year. If you have been paying attention to the current legislative session, you will have noticed that many bills introduced over the past three months have been “favorable” to public education in the state of Montana: reinstatement of lost funding from the winter 2017 special session, increased flexibility in acquiring funds for major maintenance/safety projects and increased Career & Technical Education (CTE) funding for the next biennium, just to name a few.

However, one key component of public education has again been lost in the shuffle, for whatever reason, and that is preschool funding at the state level for our four-year-olds.

Hardin School Districts have been fortunate over the past several years that we have been successful candidates in receiving the Montana Preschool Development Grant (MPDG) that serves nearly 75 students in both Crow Agency and Hardin. However, as some of you may or may not know, that grant in all actuality expires June 30, with only a small carry-over of funding for the 2019-2020 school year and no funding beyond next year. That presents a unique challenge within our District…

How do we maintain our preschool program without roughly 60 percent of the revenue from the grant?

The District administration is currently researching all opportunities; one-time carry-over revenue from the current grant, possible funding from other OPI entities, diverting some of our Title funding for one year to cover the shortfall, remaining conservative in our spending to reallocate some general and impact aid funds and maybe, just maybe, the legislature will pass something in the next week or so to help support communities in their desire to offer high-quality educational services to qualifying students.

One other avenue being investigated is outlined in state law, 20-5-101, MCA, where the Board can review each qualifying child under the age of 6 for “exceptional circumstances” and then the District can count those students for state aid.

At this time, KRC will continue collecting enrollment forms as they have previously.

We still have policy to implement and procedures to clarify. If you are interested in more information, please call KRC and/or plan to attend the board meeting at the District office, April 23 at 5:30 p.m.

Thank you,

Eldon “Chad” Johnson
Superintendent of Schools
Hardin School District Hardin, Montana