$60k awarded to 16 schools for breakfast programs

This just in from Helena about nearly $60,000 in privately funded grants that will help fund breakfast programs for healthier, more-focused students:

Sixteen Montana schools are about to take a very important step for the health and future of their students and their communities – and it all starts with making sure that every day starts with a healthy breakfast.

Governor Steve Bullock and First Lady Lisa Bullock announced today that a total of $59,600 in privately funded grants have been awarded to 16 schools across Montana to assist them in starting new breakfast programs and expanding participation in existing programs. All of these schools have pledged to adopt innovative approaches to school breakfast, such as serving breakfast in the classroom or offering a “grab-and-go” style that appeals to teens on the go.  These grants will help make healthy school breakfast accessible to the 7,000 Montana students who attend these schools, more than 60 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced-priced meals.

“Every Montana student should start the school day with a healthy breakfast that ensures they’re ready to learn. We are thrilled to see that so many Montana educators are recognizing the value of making breakfast a part of their school day, and that private businesses are stepping up to make this a reality for Montana students,” said Governor Bullock. “Breakfast at school is an important step we can take in our fight against childhood hunger.”

These schools are about to join more than 90 other Montana schools that make breakfast a part of the school day, whether they serve it in the classroom at the start of the day, or from a hallway kiosk between school periods. Participation in these innovative, accessible breakfast programs is more than twice as high, on average, than when breakfast is served before school in the cafeteria. Montana teachers are already seeing the difference in their students’ behavior, attendance and ability to pay attention during morning lessons.

These observations align with national studies that have found that school breakfast is associated with lower rates of tardiness, fewer referrals to the school nurse, and fewer disciplinary incidents. Research also shows that students who eat breakfast at school perform 17 percent better on math tests compared to those who eat at home or do not eat breakfast at all.

The 16 schools that were awarded grants in this grant round are:

  • Browning Middle School (Browning) – $3924
  • Browning High School (Browning) – $5000
  • Washington Middle Elementary (Miles City) – $2711
  • Longfellow Elementary (Great Falls) – $5000
  • Whittier Elementary (Great Falls) – $5000
  • Cornelius Hedges Elementary (Kalispell) – $5000
  • Elrod Elementary (Kalispell) – $2129
  • Lakeside Elementary (Somers) – $4998
  • Columbia Falls High School (Columbia Falls) – $1000
  • Troy Junior-Senior High (Troy) – $5000
  • Stevensville Elementary (Stevensville) – $2675
  • Billings West High School (Billings) – $2600
  • Riverside Middle School (Billings) – $4964
  • Elysian Schools (Billings) – $4000
  • Canyon Creek School (Billings) – $666
  • Custer School District (Custer) – $4910

The grants were made possible through generous donations from the Walmart Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Share our Strength, AT&T and a personal donation from Harald Herrmann with Round It Up America. Award funds are intended to help schools to pay for essential equipment and infrastructure such as grab-and-go kiosks or carts for delivering meals to classrooms; programs are expected to be self-sustaining thereafter. This is the second round of school breakfast grants. Last November, the Governor and First Lady awarded $55,000 to 20 Montana schools.

The Bullocks launched the Montana Breakfast after the Bell initiative to increase participation in school breakfast and make it a part of the school day by serving it after the school day begins. The initiative aims to ensure that all kids can have a healthy start to the day by helping schools adopt proven breakfast models that increase participation, such as breakfast in the classroom and grab n’ go breakfasts. One of the most effective ways to significantly boost school breakfast participation is to make it part of the school day.

Schools interested in starting a new breakfast program and/or making breakfast part of the school day can contact the Montana No Kid Hungry School Breakfast Coordinator, Rosie Cody at RCody@mt.gov or by phone at 444-3925.

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MT hands out $55K for school breakfasts

Here’s today’s new news from the Governor of Montana’s office:

Governor, First Lady Announce $55,000 in Grants for School Breakfast Programs

HELENA – Today, as a part of their Montana Breakfast After the Bell initiative, Governor Steve Bullock and First Lady Lisa Bullock awarded $55,000 in grants to schools implementing new school breakfast programs or transitioning to models that increase participation. The grants were made possible with support from Share Our Strength, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Neptune Aviation.

“Childhood hunger is an important, but solvable issue in Montana,” Governor Bullock said. “Through these grants we’re removing an obstacle that many schools face to providing nutritious breakfast to their students. Montanans can be proud to know that progress is being made to ensure children don’t face the school day with an empty stomach.”

The Bullocks launched the Montana Breakfast after the Bell initiative to increase participation in school breakfast and make it a part of the school day by serving it after the school day begins. The initiative aims to ensure that all kids can have a healthy start to the day by helping schools adopt proven breakfast models that increase participation, such as breakfast in the classroom and grab n’ go breakfasts. One of the most effective ways to significantly boost school breakfast participation is to make it part of the school day.

On average, school breakfast participation rises to more than 70 percent when schools implement a Breakfast after the Bell model versus 30 percent with a traditional model that serves breakfast in the cafeteria before school starts.

Kids who start their school day with breakfast score higher on math tests, attend more days of school, and are more likely to graduate high school.

The schools that received grants in the first grant cycle are:

  • Lockwood Middle & Intermediate Schools – $5,360
  • Hardin School District – $11,814
  • Fairview School – $4,200
  • Power School – $1,500
  • Rocky Boy School – $5,000
  • W F Morrison School – $3,000
  • Sunburst High School  – $1,500
  • Superior School – $5,000
  • Loy Elementary – $5,000
  • Lincoln Elementary – $5,000
  • Arlee Elementary School – $750
  • Arlee Junior High School – $750
  • Arlee High School – $750
  • Park City School $3,900
  • Valley View Elementary – $1150

“Montana students deserve every opportunity to succeed and reach their full potential. Unfortunately, hunger and poor nutrition are providing additional challenges to many students in the state,” First Lady Lisa Bullock said. “Students in these schools will now have access to a nutritious breakfast that will prepare them to excel throughout the school day.”

Of the 859 schools across Montana, there are 51 districts and 87 schools serving breakfast after the bell.  Thirty-two of these schools started or plan to start serving a breakfast after the bell model this school year.

Research continues to show that children who eat a balanced breakfast are more likely to develop healthy eating habits, visit the school nurse less frequently, and maintain a healthy weight.  Despite the many benefits of breakfast, many students come to school too hungry to learn. In a recent survey of educators, three out of four teachers and principals say they see kids who regularly come to school hungry.

Schools interested in starting a new breakfast program and/or making breakfast part of the school day can contact the Montana No Kid Hungry School Breakfast Coordinator, Rosie Cody at RCody@mt.gov or by phone at 444-3925.

Montana No Kid Hungry continues to accept grant applications on a rolling basis with hopes of announcing the second round of grants in March 2015.  Schools can apply by visiting this link: grants.nokidhungry.org and the access code is MTBREAKFAST2014 (case-sensitive).

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Montana gets $12.5M for school climate, safety, student mental health

Well, this is big news. Before you read the official news release trumpeting the $12.5 million Montana is getting, I recommend you check out this video that explains what the Montana Behavioral Initiative is and how it is changing education right here in Missoula.

Montana Wins $12.5 Million in Grants
to Address School Climate, School Safety and Mental Health Needs of Students
Helena, MT – Superintendent Denise Juneau announced today that the Office of Public Instruction has received three grants totaling more than $12.5 million to improve school climate and school safety and support the mental and emotional health of Montana students. The Office of Public Instruction was awarded a $3.75 million School Climate Transformation grant, an $8.5 million Project AWARE grant, and a $250,000 School Emergency Planning grant.

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Lt Gov announces SMART Schools Challenge to use less energy, promote health

This just in:

Montana’s Lt. Gov. Angela McLean, who worked as a teacher for two decades, today announced a new challenge to the state’s public schools.

Here’s the deets:

It’s no secret that Montana schools are doing amazing and innovative things. Students today have opportunities to earn college credit in high school, get hands on career training in college and gain valuable skills in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields in elementary and middle school. Through these efforts, students are achieving and succeeding in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago.

For 20 years, I had a front row seat to these exciting and inspirational student successes. And in my new position as Lieutenant Governor, I want to make sure schools have all of the tools and resources to expand on the good work they’re already doing. It’s with that in mind that this week I’ll be kicking off my SMART Schools Challenges. Through this effort, we’ll challenge Montana schools to use less energy and promote student health. It’s pretty simple, if we use less energy and promote student health, we will save schools money that can be used on classroom instruction.

The reality is that schools in the U.S. spend more than $6 billion a year on energy. Many cite their energy bill as being the largest yearly expense. While we know this, we also know that implementing simple behavioral and operational measures to be smart about energy consumption can shave up to 30 percent off of a school’s yearly energy bill. When we save money on energy use, we shore up money for other things schools need, like computers and technology upgrades.

Over the coming days, I’ll be traveling to communities across the state to highlight some of the work that is already being done as part of these challenges. In many schools, students are leading the way on conservation and health promotion.

We’ll make sure to let you know when I’m in your community, but in the meantime, go to SMARTSchools.mt.gov to learn more about the challenges, and steps schools can take to save money and promote student health.

Lt. Gov. Angela McLean

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Five Montana elementary schools attending ‘Veggie U’

Sustainable agriculture, healthy food choices, hands-on science.

It all adds up to “Veggie U,” which I learned yesterday is making its foray into fourth-grade classrooms in Arlee, the Gallatin Gateway, Helena, Lakeside and Wilsall. Students in the five-week program learn about growing food while tending their own gardens.

Read on for the full press release:

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Bozeman schools get longer day, shorter year. Should we?

Looks like Bozeman schools are going ahead with a new plan to add 10 minutes to each school day, meaning the overall school year will be six days shorter.

The biggest difference? Parents will no longer have to contend with weekly “early out” days. These days are the bane of parents who have to scramble to find kid care that covers these extra hours.

In Missoula, the early out days for Missoula County Public Schools are Thursdays. For elementary school kiddos (the ones who are young enough to absolutely require the presence of an adult outside of school hours), this means the school day ends at 2 p.m. each Thursday.

Which is actually kind of nice for some younger students, such as kindergartners, for whom the school day is already rather long.

Hmm. Should Missoula consider doing what Bozeman did? What do you think? What would be the pros and cons?

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Anaconda, like Missoula, grappling with future of schools

As practically anyone in the Missoula County Public Schools district knows by now, we’re in the middle of this big facilities planning process that’s meant to result in a plan for the future of our schools.

It’ll most likely result in a mill levy request, too.

Changing enrollment, aging buildings, new technology uses, different safety and security concerns – all are part of the process, and the district is looking for every opportunity to get the wider community engaged.

Meanwhile, our fellow Montanans in Anaconda are weighing whether to close and consolidate some schools – an idea that saw an impassioned backlash at yesterday’s school board meeting.

Then, of course, we have Lolo set to start voting this week on whether to build a new K-4 facility.

Maybe our different communities can learn something from watching one another deal with some common challenges.

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How to give all of Missoula’s children a merrier Christmas

This editorial ran on the Missoulian’s Opinion page yesterday. It talks about the recent toiletries drive for needy students in Missoula County Public Schools. And it describes the ongoing need for other items – diapers, cleaning supplies and extra athletic clothes in particular – as well as how to provide those items if you’re moved to help.

School buildings will be closed through the break but the Administration Building at 215 S. Sixth St. W. will be open during its regular hours after Christmas Day. That’s Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m. After the holidays, give Kennedy a call at 728-2400, ext. 1080 or send her an email at sskennedy@mcps.k12.mt.us to find out which supplies are most needed right now, and where to deliver them.

Something to think about as we enjoy all the riches of the season on this Christmas Day. Merry Christmas,  everyone!

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Money money money! For Montana schools

Today the governor of Montana announced a whole heckuva lotta grant money for improving schools throughout the state.

The grants are from the Quality Schools Planning Grants Program. Missoula’s elementary district is set to get $25,000 and Missoula’s high schools will get another $25,000. Read on for the complete list of totals for 36 different districts throughout Montana:

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Daly Elementary’s ‘rotted, collapsed’ bathroom floor to be replaced

Daly Elementary School in Hamilton is in need of some building upgrades – big time.

Apparently facilities have degraded to the point where the floor in one of the bathrooms is collapsing being held up with temporary supports.

But that’s going to get fixed soon – along with some other much-needed renovations – thanks to a $41,494 grant that was just awarded to the school.

Gov. Steve Bullock announced the Quality Schools grant for Daly Elementary earlier this week, and had this to say:

“We owe it to our children to provide them with a safe learning environment. The fact that part of the floor structure in the boys’ bathroom had rotted and collapsed is unacceptable. That’s why it’s important to update the school, and create good-paying construction jobs in the process. All Montanans can be proud of that.”

Quality Schools grants are aimed at making improvements to school facilities and technology. Earlier this week, Bullock announced another Quality Schools grant to help the school in Plains consolidate its campus on one side of the highway. But that grant was for $1.15 million.

Hamilton School Superintendent Tom Korst doesn’t seem to mind. Here’s his take on the grant:

“What we will be able to accomplish probably isn’t huge compared to other projects, but the ability to remodel our bathrooms in our elementary school will make them safer for kids. The bathroom floors will no longer be held up with blocks and jacks, and the school district is very appreciative of receiving the necessary funds through the grant.”

I’ll bet the boys who use that bathroom appreciate it most of all.

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