February 2022 Education Compass

OPI Compass

January 28, 2022


  Click here for important dates

Superintendent Arntzen standing at lectern with quote about supporting mental health for students

State Superintendent Message

Uncertain times bring opportunities to overcome obstacles, build resiliency, and drive change. We at the state level are experiencing some of the same local challenges. Thank you for all you do in putting Montana students first in a healthy learning environment.

Elsie Arntzen Signature

Please Read: Superintendents Arntzen’s editorial on serving our students through Mental Health Services.

Attendance Guidance - February 2022 Count Date

In the midst of the pandemic upsurge that is causing an increase in school closures, hybrid options, and student absenteeism, the purpose of this guidance is to clarify the spring count for all school districts.

February 7, 2022 – School districts count the students enrolled on that date.  Students who are absent but enrolled, in the school district, are eligible to be counted.  Any student who has 11 consecutive absences for which districts have no documentation as to why, is dropped and not eligible for the February count.

Districts are reminded that an unforeseen emergency causing district closures that may impact this date will still have a February 7, 2022 count day on which they collect the data.  If closure will impact the district’s ability to submit their data, they should contact Barb Quinn, Senior School Finance Manager at 406-444-3429.

CSCT Comprehensive School and Community Treatment

School Districts have the revised Intergovernmental Transfer Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The signed MOU should be returned to the OPI no later than February 11, 2022, in order to be paid for claims.  February 11, 2022, is the first payment to districts since the districts have been required to pay the state match for CMS match funding.  Districts are encouraged to get the revised MOU approved by their trustees in order to get a 2/3 match for the mental health services the district is offering to some of their students through the Comprehensive Schools and Community Treatment program. Please see the Medicaid portion on our OPI website. For more information, contact Deputy Sharyl Allen at 406-444-5658.

Suicide Prevention and Self-Care for Counselors- Upcoming Webinar

The OPI and the Montana School Counselor Association are excited to team up to support school mental health professionals! School counselors, CSCT staff, school mental health providers, and other youth suicide prevention champions are invited to join us on February 1, 2022, from 3:30-5:00 pm to hear from Dr. Scott Poland: "Youth Suicide Prevention, Intervention, and Postvention in Schools and the Importance of Self-Care."  Learn more and register here for the webinar

For more information, please contact Tammy Lysons, Continuing Ed Unit Mgr, Health Enhancement & Safety, at 406-431-2309.

Board of Public Education hearing  

Our OPI experts, Jake Griffith, Krystal Andrews, and Julie Murgel working diligently at the Board of Public Education, presenting Superintendent Arntzen's recommendations regarding Montana Licensing amendments.

Renee Rasmussen appointed to the Board of Public Education

Congratulations to Bainville’s previous Superintendent Rasmussen on her appointment to Montana's Board of Public Education. Renee's years of steadfast commitment to serving rural Montana in education brings strength and energy as we put Montana students first.

Teach logo

Montana Licensing

The Board of Public Education (BPE) adopted the proposed timeline at their November meeting. On January 13th, Dr. Murgel and Crystal Andrews presented Superintendent Arntzen’s recommendations to the Board of Public Education. Chief Legal Counsel Jake Griffith requested approval of the notice of public hearing pertaining to the amendment of ARM Title 10, Chapter 57, Educator Licensure, and authorization of the filing of the notice with the Secretary of State for publication in the Montana Administrative Register. The board unanimously approved. The hearing date was set for February 24, 2022, and all public input needs to be submitted to bpe@mt.gov by April 8, 2022. The process now lives with the BPE through the adoption of the revised rules that will be effective on May 27, 2022.

For more information, please contact Crystal Andrews at 406-444-5658.

ESSA Public Comment

The OPI is asking for public comment on the ESSA Accountability Waiver, based on changes that are needed for Montana's ESSA plan. There are two upcoming webinars to provide input, and written comments can be sent to essainput@mt.gov. Read all the details in the Accountability Waiver Public Comment letter.

The OPI 2022 Virtual Job Fair

The Montana headlines mirror national headlines.

Big Sky Country is still the Last Best Place to live and raise a family.

Teacher Candidates are recruited from those seeking employment in Montana! MT Educator Fair advertised nationally and internationally!

District Deadline for Booth Competition: February 24th

DATES: February 26-27 Candidate browse

February 28 - Pre-set Interviews

March 1 - Virtual Fair Live 11:00 am. - 4:30 p.m.

Candidates: FREE

Districts: $89.00 for 1 Booth Member - $10.00 for each additional Member

For more information, please contact Deputy Sharyl Allen at 1-406-444-5658.

Superintendent Arntzen Selects Montana Students for United States Senate Youth Program

After nomination by teachers and principals, Superintendent Elsie Arntzen has selected this year’s remarkable high school students to represent Montana as delegates and alternates in the Senate Youth Delegation. Two Seniors from Gallatin High School, Chase Casey and Melaina Springer, will join Senator Jon Tester and Senator Steve Daines in representing Montana during the 60th annual USSYP Washington Week, to be held March 6 — 9, 2022. 

Read more: 2022 USSYP Delegates

For more information, please contact Kristen Bokovoy, USSYP Coordinator, at 406-444-2417.

DPHHS Update

DPHHS will continue to distribute all COVID tests directly to schools. Districts do not need to take any additional steps and can continue ordering from the state as they’ve been instructed.

For more information, please contact Todd Harwell, DPHHS Public Health and Safety Division at tharwell@mt.gov or 406- 444-0303.

Robotics Teams Demonstration at the Rotunda

Helena and Sun River Valley Robotics Teams

On January 24, Team Fusion 4133, an independent student/mentorship-based robotics team located in Helena, and Redneck Robotics, students based out of the Sun River Valley School, had a robotics demonstration for the Education Interim Committee in the Rotunda at the State Capitol.


Colet Bartow, Senior Manager for Teaching and Learning, is retiring from the Montana Office of Public Instruction on March 4, 2022.  Colet joined the OPI as the School Library Specialist in the Content Standards and Instruction division in 2007 after 13 years at Manhattan Public Schools. In December 2016, she was hired as the Content Standards and Instruction Director. In July 2020, she became the Senior Manager for the OPI Teaching and Learning Department, supervising Standards, Instruction and Professional Learning (SIPL), Career Technical and Adult Education (CTAE), and Assessment.Colet will always have a place in our education hearts.

State Graduation Rates

All districts received this data a week ago as a courtesy embargo and all graduation rates are live on GEMS.

Click the links below to see updates from OPI's units. 

Achievement in Montana (AIM)


Career, Technical and Adult Education

Coordinated School Health

Educator Licensure

Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER)

Emergency Assistance for Non-Public Schools (EANS)

Indian Education for All

Montana Autism Education Project

School Finance

School Nutrition

Special Education

Standards, Instruction & Professional Learning

Title & Federal Programs

Traffic Education

Transformational Learning & Montana Advanced Opportunity

Questions? Contact: 

Dennison Rivera, Communications Director

Brian.O'Leary, Deputy Communications Director 


The OPI is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities. If you need a reasonable accommodation, require an alternate format, or have questions concerning accessibility, contact the OPI ADA Coordinator, 406-444-3161, opiada@mt.gov, Relay Service: 711.