Friday Update from Superintendent Weltz | January 5, 2024

Dear Families,

Welcome back! It feels good to settle into our school routines as we start a fresh calendar year.

We have much to look forward to in 2024. But first, I want to recognize the incredible efforts of our students and staff to support families in need over the holiday season. Dozens of families were provided holiday meals, gifts and other food support for the long Winter Break.

Visit our Student & Educator Recognitions page to see the remarkable impact our schools can have on our community. I’m sure there were even more food and gift drives than we’ve listed, and I want to thank all who made the holidays brighter for Helena families.

You’ll also find a list of the great ideas that earned “Spark” and “Great Ideas” grants from the Helena Education Foundation for the classrooms of 15 Helena Public Schools teachers. We appreciate all of the Helena businesses and individuals who made these fun and engaging projects possible for our students.

Please also join me in congratulating our 15 Helena Public Schools educators who have earned National Board Certification. Our district continues to have one of the highest numbers of Board-Certified teachers in the state! We’re proud of their commitment to lifelong professional development and excellence in the classroom.

As we move into the new year, we look forward to seeing our elementary and middle school families at our Parent/Teacher Conferences. In addition to learning about your child’s progress, these meetings are a great way to learn how to get involved in your school community, from attending PTO meetings to helping plan this spring’s family events.

Toward the end of the month, our Speech and Debate competitors will head to Missoula for their state meet. And on the athletic front, our swim and wrestling athletes are training for their state meets in February.

This is also the time of year when every Helena Public Schools sixth grader gets the opportunity to learn to ski on a field trip to Great Divide. “Ski Day” is a middle school highlight for many of our students and it looks like we’re going to get some snow in the nick of time!

Safety & Security Update
As we began this school year, we shared a broad look at recent safety and security improvements (see August and March in the annual district calendar). While we’ve made great strides in recent years, this work is never done. Over Winter Break, our safety and security team was busy testing our emergency communications systems at every school.

As we grieve the gun violence tragedy at an Iowa school earlier this week, I want our families to know that we continue to explore every avenue to keep our students safe, including going out for a safety and security levy this spring.

Alongside security upgrades to our schools, we’re taking proactive steps to create inclusive and safe school environments. Among those efforts is the upcoming district launch of the new “Montana Cares App.”

The app will support our schools in three ways:

  • 24/7 crisis support line for students, staff or family members.
  • Easy-to-access mental health support resources.
  • 24/7, two-way communication portal that will allow individuals to anonymously report mental health, personal safety and misconduct issues and concerns.

Used by districts across the nation, the reporting portal is engineered by STOPit Solutions to protect privacy while enabling prompt reporting of safety concerns. Here’s a brief summary of how it works:

  • When a student, staff member or parent reports a concern, the information goes to a central clearinghouse that operates seven days a week, around the clock.
  • At the clearinghouse, the information is vetted, then forwarded to school administration for response and management, as appropriate.
  • In instances where a safety threat is identified, school administration and/or law enforcement are notified.

The “Montana Cares App” was developed through a partnership of the Western Montana Professional Learning Collaborate, the Montana Small Schools Alliance, and STOPit Solutions and is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. Helena Public Schools has the opportunity to use the app free-of-charge through the end of 2025, at which point the program will be reassessed.

I look forward to sharing additional information as the app becomes available to our district this spring.

Bison Survey Results are In
Finally, I would like to share some exciting news about school lunch. A few weeks ago, District Food Services Director Robert Worthy sent out a survey asking you to vote for your favorite recipes to incorporate Montana-raised bison into school lunch. Mr. Worthy is adding bison, Flathead cherries and Montana-grown vegetables to the menu thanks to a “Local Food for School” grant from the Office of Public Instruction.

You exercised your vote and the winning recipes are below. Thanks to all who participated!

Have a wonderful weekend with your families,


Signature: Rex M. Weltz

Rex M. Weltz, Superintendent
Helena Public Schools


THE RESULTS ARE IN! “HOW WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR BISON SERVED?” SCHOOL LUNCH SURVEY Tacos - February 15 Students will receive (2) 6" flour or corn tortillas with 1 oz ground bison each with option of shredded cheese. Shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and Montana sour cream offered on the side. Served with a scoop of Spanish rice. Meat Balls – March 20 Students will receive (1) large 3 oz meatball topped with marinara and shredded mozzarella cheese. Meat ball will be gluten free. Served with fresh bread stick or piece of gluten free bread. Chili – April 10 Students will receive 8oz bowl of our homemade chili made with kidney beans & Montana lentils. Served with homemade cornbread squares with light Montana honey glaze. Cheeseburger Mac – April 24 Student will receive classic baked homemade creamy macaroni & cheese with ground bison, topped with bacon bits & breadcrumbs. Served with side of cooked Montana carrot medallions. Stroganoff– May 15 Stroganoff - Made with a creamy Montana sour cream sauce over a bed of egg noodles. **Over brown rice for the gluten free option