Friday Update from Superintendent Weltz | October 6, 2023

Dear Helena Public Schools Families,

It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through our fall athletics season, with golf already wrapped up and state tournaments in cross country, soccer and volleyball fast upon us.

We had two individual athletes finish in the top 15 at the AA State Golf Tournament in Billings last week. Capital High’s John Gilbert placed 13th with 78-77-155, and fellow Bruin Olivia McGreevey finished 12th at 90-81-171. Congratulations John and Olivia!

In cross country news, Capital and Helena high schools worked together to host the 7 of 7 Meet yesterday at Bill Roberts Golf Course. This is one of the biggest meets in the state and it features an unusual format, with 9 races held. Our local runners competed with almost 1,400 high school runners from the largest to the smallest of schools across Montana. Thank you to our runners and to all who made it possible for Helena to host this unique meet.

On the football front, the Bengals are headed to Missoula today to play Sentinel, while the Bruins will host Missoula Big Sky at Vigilante Stadium. And tonight, our Bengal and Bruin soccer and volleyball teams take on Glacier and Flathead here at home.

Best of luck to all of our cross country, soccer and volleyball athletes as they vie for berths in their upcoming state tournaments. State Cross Country is October 21 in Kalispell, State Soccer is Oct. 28, location TBD, and State Volleyball is Nov. 9-11 in Bozeman.

If you’re a parent of a student athlete, thank you for all you do to help our teams play their best. And please take a moment to thank your coach for the incredible work they do to give students the opportunity to compete.

Substitute teachers needed
There are so many ways to have a positive impact on our public schools, and a critical need right now is substitute teachers. Like schools throughout the country, we saw our roster of substitutes, many of whom were retired, decline dramatically during the pandemic. And even as the pandemic grows smaller in the rearview mirror, recruitment remains a challenge. If you enjoy working with kids and are in a position to serve as a part-time or full-time substitute teacher, I encourage you to contact our Human Resources Department. Subs can work full days or half days, and have the flexibility to determine what days they will work. As the holidays approach, this is a great way to earn extra cash and meet a critical need for our students. To learn more, call Deanna Tolman at 406-324-2011 or visit our website.

School safety update
In previous letters, I’ve reviewed the numerous safety improvements our district has made in recent years – everything from the installation of additional security cameras, to new software that allows staff at our high schools to initiate an emergency code from anywhere in a building.

Another, behind-the-scenes safety improvement this fall is the transition to a new, districtwide parent messaging system. The new BrightArrow system provides the district with enhanced ability to send out email, text and voice notifications in response to emergencies or unplanned situations. For non-urgent information, you will continue to receive emails from the district. In the event of an emergency, you may receive a text, a voicemail or both.

Please note:

  • District text messages will come from the short code 87569.
  • District voice calls will come from 406-324-2000. If you do not immediately answer a voice call and see the 324-2000 phone number on your Caller ID, please listen to the voicemail it leaves rather than calling back. This will help keep phone lines open in the event of an emergency.

Letting you know what to expect before an emergency helps ensure a coordinated response, and I appreciate your attention to these details. Please also take a few moments to review these emergency response guidelines for parents. We all play a role in keeping our students safe!

Looking ahead
Finally, a reminder on two upcoming opportunities to support our public schools. There’s actually sunshine in the forecast tomorrow morning for the 8th Annual Sun Run – a rare occurrence, as all but one of the previous seven races have seen rain. All proceeds support the installation of solar photovoltaic arrays at our three rebuilt elementary schools. Panels at Central and Jim Darcy schools are already converting solar rays to clean energy and installation is pending at Bryant Elementary, all supported in part by the ongoing efforts of the Vigilante Runners and the Sleeping Giant Citizens Council. An untimed 1-mile and bicycle parade starts at 10 a.m. and the 5K starts at 10:30 a.m. Registration is open until race time.

This Wednesday, community members have the opportunity to join a discussion around food and nutrition in Helena Public Schools. This community conversation is a joint effort of the Kids Nutrition Coalition, St. Peter’s Health, Sodexo, Helena Food Share and Helena Public Schools. While the discussion will be focused on elementary schools, all are welcome. Please visit the RSVP page to learn more and register for either the lunchtime or evening session.

Thank you for all you do to support our Helena Public Schools.


Signature: Rex M. Weltz

Rex Weltz, Superintendent
Helena Public Schools