Friday Message from Superintendent Weltz | April 21, 2023

Dear Helena Public Schools Families and Staff,

In a report to Trustees a couple weeks ago, HPS Facilities Director Todd Verrill said in anticipation of spring, crews were busy sweeping winter sand and gravel from sidewalks and parking lots.

He jinxed us.

But we appreciate our facilities and maintenance team anyway. Snow removal is just one small part of their job. In fact, Todd reported that his small team completed 658 work orders in the month of March alone. The work isn’t glamorous – repairing boilers, pumping sumps and maintaining plumbing – but it’s what keeps our facilities safe and operational.

The majority of this work is funded by the district’s Building Reserve Levy.

Helena Public Schools seeks re-approval of its Elementary and High School Building Reserve Levies approximately every 10 years. Voters re-approved the last Building Reserve Levies in 2013 and they are now up for renewal, adjusting for inflation. Just like the cost of maintaining your own home has gone up, the cost of maintaining our district facilities has risen since 2013, with construction costs up nearly 50 percent.

The levies now on the ballot for re-approval would fund upkeep and maintenance of our schools for the next 10 years.

One question I’ve gotten in recent weeks is why we’re seeking levies for facilities and maintenance at a time when teaching staff is being reduced. There are two reasons, and the first is timing. With the 10-year levy last approved by voters in 2013 expiring, the district is seeking re-approval of the already established building reserve funds in the elementary and high school districts.

To support the General Fund, the district is seeking an Elementary General Fund Levy, which wouldn’t eliminate a $6 million funding shortfall, but would begin to narrow the gap. The district is seeking the maximum amount allowed for the Elementary General Fund Levy under state law.

To address these questions and others regarding the levies, district finances, COVID-19 relief spending and more, we’ve established a Helena Public Schools FAQ.

And last, but not least, we thank you for voting! Mail-in ballots are due back to the Lewis & Clark County Elections Office by May 2. Find information on the Helena Public School 2023 election here.

In other levy news, the Helena Area Chamber of Commerce notified its membership this week that the Chamber is “officially in favor of the levies supporting the Helena and East Helena Schools.”

Student musicians take top honors at District Music Festival

Moving on to the best part of each week – Student & Staff Recognitions – our amazing student musicians gave virtuoso performances at the District Music Festival hosted here in Helena last weekend. Our Bengals and Bruins received high marks across the board.

The following groups received Superior ratings, the highest level possible:

Capital High: Beginning/Intermediate Orchestra, Advanced Orchestra, Symphonic Band, Freshman Band, Jazz Band and Jazz Ensemble

Helena High: Symphonic Band, Freshman Band

Bengal and Bruin soloists and small ensembles also earned Superior ratings, qualifying to participate in the State Music Festival May 6 in Missoula. See the full list of 2023 District Music Festival Results here.

Way to go CHS and HHS musicians!

Helena High National Honor Society inductees

Congratulations to Helena High School scholars who were inducted into the National Honor Society in a ceremony Thursday evening. Guest presenters included Great Falls native and former NBA player Josh Huestis, who has established The Josh Huestis Foundation to create opportunities for Montana youth.

The National Honor Society invites students to apply in the spring of their junior year based on their cumulative GPA. Members participate in community service projects and other activities during their senior year. Huestis fittingly delivered a message about character and we’re sure these Bengals are up to the challenges ahead as they serve our community.

The Capital High NHS Induction Ceremony is coming up Tuesday, May 9.

Holter Youth Electrum:

The Annual Holter Museum Youth Electrum, featuring K-12 student artists from Helena Public Schools, is now open!

More than 150 pieces of student artwork are on display, giving students the opportunity to showcase their work in a museum environment and to view the work of their peers. The exhibition will continue through May 14. This weekend would be a great time to make a day of it and head downtown for lunch and an art show!

CHS Teacher Adam Clinch named to state math task force

Capital High Math Teacher Adam Clinch has been selected to serve on the state’s Montana Math Standards Review Task Force. The task force is charged with shaping the state’s future math standards. Thank you, Mr. Clinch, for your work on behalf of all Montana students.

Getting real about money

Please join us in thanking Rocky Mountain Credit Union for bringing the “Financial Reality Fair” to PAL (Project for Alternative Learning) high school students this week. The hands-on project gives students an opportunity to explore real-world financial scenarios as they consider career paths. And thank you to the Independent Record for capturing moments from this fun and instructive day.

National School Library Month

April is National School Library month and we’ll be celebrating every day next week with Facebook posts celebrating the life-changing work of our school librarians. Among many other things, today’s librarians teach students to research, validate, organize and analyze information, preparing them to be responsible citizens in a digital world. Here’s a quick look at just some of the things our school librarians do. Watch for more on our district Facebook page next week!

Represent your peers  

A quick reminder that Helena Public Schools is seeking two student representatives to sit with the Helena Public Schools Board of Trustees, one from each of the district’s two high schools. This is an exciting opportunity for students to represent their fellow students.

Student representatives serve a one-year term during their junior or senior year, with new electees seated at the June 13 regular Board of Trustees meeting.

Completed applications must be sent to Barb Ridgway at Lincoln Center no later than 4 p.m. on May 8, 2023. Interviews are scheduled for May 10 and 11. The Board Interview Committee will include Trustees, the Helena High and Capital High Principals, District Chief of Staff Barb Ridgway and outgoing student representatives Keiran Boyle (CHS) and Loreley Drees (HHS).

Bear witness

If you’re looking for indoor entertainment this cold, wet weekend, Capital High’s drama production “Witness for the Prosecution” opened last night. Catch Agatha Christie’s famous courtroom drama tonight and tomorrow evening.

Curtain is at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students/seniors. VIP seating is available near the stage for $15. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online.

The show will also run next Thursday, Friday and Saturday (April 27-29).

I wish you a wonderful weekend with your family,


Signature: Rex M. Weltz

Rex Weltz, Superintendent
Helena Public Schools