Friday Update from Superintendent Weltz | February 2, 2024

District Update from Superintendent Rex Weltz / February 2, 2024

Dear Families,

We appreciate the weather forecasting ability of Punxsutawney Phil today.  Phil accurately predicted an early spring and though we need the moisture, we weren’t exactly disappointed with Phil’s meteorology expertise.

This week I’m going to highlight several issues we are currently managing.  As always, I welcome your feedback or questions.

Parent Teacher Conferences

Parent/Teacher conferences will get underway at our elementary and middle schools starting NEXT week and run through February.  It’s always rewarding to see how much our students have learned and grown as individuals in just a few short months.  Please watch for scheduling information from your child’s school.

Presidents’ Day – No School

As we look ahead to upcoming dates in February I want to remind you that there will be no school for all K-12 students on Monday, February 19 as we celebrate Presidents’ Day.

Budget Consensus

The Budget Consensus Committee continues to meet with the goal of producing a list of budget reductions in the event that our May levies are not successful.   The committee has worked diligently to identify areas in which the district can make reductions with the least impact on our students.  This is an arduous task and one every committee member is taking seriously.  Once this list is completed and submitted to the Board, I will also share it with all stakeholders.  The next meeting of this group will be February 7, 2024, at 4:00 p.m. in the Lincoln Professional Development Center at 1325 Poplar.

StopIt App Being Implemented

You will be receiving information from your school principal(s) regarding an app we are implementing which will be dedicated to providing 24/7/365-day support for our students and staff.  This online and app-based system, provides students, parents, teachers, and others with the ability to anonymously report anything of concern. There is also the ability seek assistance accessing needed resource support such as food, housing, and health needs. Students and parents will need to obtain the district’s access code from their school before they can make a report using STOPit.

For more information, please reach out to Ms. Carter at

Levy Update / Facilities Master Plan

The Board of Trustees will review the final Safety/Security and Technology levy recommendations at their next meeting scheduled for February 13, 2024, at 5:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Center at 1325 Poplar Street.  Trustees will make a decision regarding whether or not to approve the levies as recommended. The election will take place in May.

Also, at the February 13 Board meeting SMA Architecture will present their comprehensive study regarding our district facilities.   This master facility plan, much like a road map, will provide a guide for the district as we address our facility needs and plan expenditures strategically, appropriately, and responsibly for the next several years.

Revenue Update

I have shared that one of my priorities is to seek opportunities to generate revenue now, in addition to planning for the next legislative session.

I am pleased to share that we have been successful and wanted to summarize the revenue that will be generated and / or saved because of building leases and the approval of our three Charter School applications.

  • Charter Schools
    • Estimated $700,000 for Basic Entitlement / ANB (average number belonging)
  • Peter’s Lease of RBLC
    • Annual income: $272,897.00
    • Annual Utility and Custodial Savings: $69,000.00
  • 7th Avenue Gym Lease
    • Annual utility savings             $18,000.00

Mr. Thennis Invited to Speak in Japan

Last week we shared with the community that Steve Thennis, HHS Principal, will be traveling to Japan to visit Helena High School’s Sister School, Senshu University Tamana High School in the city of Tamana in Kumamoto Perfecture.  We have received questions about the trip and wanted to provide some background about the long-standing relationship between the two schools.

The relationship between the Helena High and Senshu University HS began informally in 2013 when 13 HS band students from Japan came to Helena as part of the Sister City partnership between Helena and Tamana.  The students in the delegation connected with Helena High band students, toured the school and the rest is history as they say.

A “sister city” is an actual designation that refers to a long-term relationship between two cities in two different countries that share cultural exchanges and interactions. Perhaps unbeknownst to many, Montana has several of these unique and long-standing partnerships – Bozeman’s Sister City is Mörön, Mongolia.  Butte’s Sister City is Altensteig, Germany. Great Falls Sister City is Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

Much like Sister Cities, Sister Schools provide students with a global experience that builds understanding, compassion and appreciation for other cultures.

Communication between the two schools continued after that first visit in 2013.  Senshu students periodically sent boxes of Japanese treats to the HHS Student Council and asked for feedback.  In return HHS students would send treats (chips, candy, etc.) to the Japanese students.  To view the taste tests:

In 2020 the Sister School relationship between the two schools was formalized with a ceremony that included speeches from Helena mayor, Wilmont Collins, Mr. Thennis and others.

After the formalization of the relationship Senshu University began asking Mr. Thennis to address their students during graduation.  Steve would write his speech, record it, and send it to Japan where it was broadcast during graduation.  His graduation addresses are translated to Japanese and included in the school yearbook as well.  Mr. Thennis has also prepared and delivered welcoming speeches for incoming freshmen who participate in an activity much like Bengal Beginnings.

Here is a link to one of Mr. Thennis’ graduation speeches.

After receiving a copy of a HHS yearbook Senshu students sent this video thank you in addition to the photo.

Steve’s recent invitation included the following: “We are reaching out to inquire whether you would be interested in participating in the Senshu University Kumamoto Tamana High School graduation ceremony, scheduled for Friday, March 1, 2024. In previous years, we appreciated your contribution in the form of a video congratulatory address. However, for the upcoming ceremony, we kindly request that you consider delivering your congratulatory address in person to our graduating students.”

Details for the trip are being managed by Montana’s Chief Protocol Officer and International Trade Officer and all costs are being covered by Senshu University Tamana High School.

This will be an amazing experience for Steve who will be a great representative for Helena High School, the Helena Public Schools, and the Helena community.

In case you missed it

A great story in the Helena Independent Record on Artificial Intelligence featured the work of Meghan Schulte and Jessica Vallincourt.  It featured how they are helping students grapple with the issue of AI in education.

Bryant Students at Crosstown Game

Bryant students had the opportunity to attend a crosstown game at Helena High School yesterday!  The students enjoyed cheering on the players.

Helena Art Walk

I hope you get the opportunity to enjoy tonight’s downtown Art Walk.  It’s a great chance to celebrate the amazing talent that makes Helena a wonderful place to live.

Have a wonderful weekend.