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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New school year brings new round of federal grant funding

Three cheers for reading and writing!

Juneau and Tester Announce Extension

of $4.9 Million Striving Readers Grant

Forty-Two Schools and Pre-Kindergarten Centers

Able to Continue Literacy Efforts

Helena, MT – Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau and U. S. Senator Jon Tester announced 42 Montana schools and pre-kindergarten centers will continue to receive federal grant funding for the next two school years to advance literacy skills, reading and writing for students from early childhood through grade 12. Montana will receive $4.9 million for the 2014-2015 school year. In 2012, the competitive grant was awarded to only six states. To date, more than 10,000 students and 850 teachers and staff members have benefited from the Striving Readers grant.

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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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Not even the Carousel

We’re having a real blizzard. The schools are closed, many roads are closed and – and a sign things are really truly serious outside – even A Carousel For Missoula is closed.

Usually when we have a day off of school we spend some time down at the carousel. Since our short road is completely impassable, I’m glad I can tell the kids there’s no use in trying to get out.

Here’s the short note Theresa Cox (executive director of the carousel) sent out early this morning:

Good morning, all:

For those of you who are able to let people know of immediate happenings, please let them know the Carousel will not be open today, Friday, Feb. 28. If the weather is too bad for people to go to school, it’s too bad for them to risk a trip to the Carousel.
Thank you,
Theresa

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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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Missoula may be moving its schools around

Kudos to the 40 or so parents who came to the community listening session offered by Missoula County Public Schools last night. They – and the Missoulian – got the scoop on the district’s long-range facilities planning process, including ideas to relocate some schools.

For one, someone floated the idea of moving Lowell Elementary School into the Missoula Mercantile building in downtown Missoula. Another idea was to move Washington Middle School into the Missoula College building on South Avenue after the college moves to its new digs on Broadway.

The desire to do some shuffling comes from the district’s enrollment projections, which show most schools in Missoula getting sizable increases in students in the foreseeable future. Some schools have already exceeded their recommended capacity and are now at overflow levels.

My kids are in an overflow school right now, so the idea of leveling out the number of students appeals to me – in theory. The idea of moving our school – or attending a different school – not so much.

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Crowded students and long-range school facilities planning

I seem to remember some years ago, before I had kids in school, that Missoula County Public Schools student enrollment was in steep decline. As recently as 2004, MCPS was closing entire schools.

Now, enrollment is increasing so much that schools – including Rattlesnake, Lowell and Russell – have had to tack on extra classrooms to accommodate extra classes of students.

The new modular building at Rattlesnake is pretty nice. It looks like this:

TOM BAUER/Missoulian

But at least 200 more elementary students, 100 more middle-school students, and almost 30 high-school students are projected to join MCPS within the next four years. That would be a lot of modulars.

Fortunately, MCPS is currently entering the second phase of its facilities planning process. The process casts a wide net over the future of Missoula’s public schools, and fluctuations in student enrollment numbers is only one consideration.

A guest column from MCPS’s Hatton Littman will be on tomorrow’s Opinion page; it urges the larger Missoula community to get engaged with the process.  It also notes that the next Community Listening Session will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 6:30-8 p.m. at the Broadway Inn Hotel and Conference Center at 1609 W. Broadway.

Consider attending. If you can’t, however, there are other ways to get involved, starting here.

 

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