Friday update from Superintendent Weltz | April 12, 2024

Dear Families,

Our 2024 School Election is fast-approaching! If you haven’t already, please visit our website for information on the safety, technology and elementary operational levies the district is seeking to sustain our current levels of staff and student programs.

Ballots will be mailed April 22 and are due back to the Lewis & Clark County Elections Office May 7.

We’ve created an FAQ with some of the most common questions we’re getting about the levies and why they’re necessary; I hope you find answers to your questions and find the FAQ useful as you discuss the levies with friends and family.

Among these questions, is what happens if the levies don’t pass. While that’s not the scenario we hope for, we have contingencies in place.

The district has already taken many steps to address the budget shortfall – everything from shifting to larger class sizes to finding new sources of revenue. These measures have helped our district avoid the painful cuts to staff and programming seen elsewhere in Montana as AA districts face multi-million-dollar budget shortfalls under the state’s current school funding model.

However, we’ve now exhausted nearly all of our options for significant budget reductions without cutting staff and programs.

Recognizing this reality, the district established a committee of district stakeholders last spring. This group of parents, students, educators, union representatives, community members and others – known as the “Budget Recommendation Consensus Committee” – was tasked with creating a set of agreed-upon recommendations for cutting the district’s budget for the 2024-25 school year.

The Committee prepared three sets of recommendations, based on potential outcomes of next month’s election. The best-case scenario is that all school levies pass and we maintain our current level of staff and programming. The worst is that all school levies fail, resulting in sizable reductions to staff at all levels and/or cuts to district programs and curriculum.

While we’re grateful for the work of the Committee and glad to have contingencies in place, I hope the plan does nothing more than gather dust on a shelf.

I think I’m in good company when I say I’d rather continue with our district’s current model of staff and student programming – a model of excellence that our community has come to expect from one of our state’s top AA school districts; a model that produces results.

Earlier this month, the Office of Public Instruction released its federally mandated “School Report Card” data for districts statewide, which placed Helena Public Schools above the state average in reading, math and science across our elementary, middle school and high school grade bands. These results reflect the research-based teaching strategies we’ve implemented in all of our schools over the past few years.

Meanwhile, our high school juniors continue to consistently score among the highest in Montana in assessment testing across reading, English, math and science, preparing them for future success on their academic and career paths.

This is the legacy of teaching and learning that we’re seeking to sustain, and that I’m honored to highlight in this report each week. Thank you to our students, teachers, families, volunteers and community partners who make these successes possible.


Superintendent Rex M. Weltz signature







Rex M. Weltz, Superintendent
Helena Public Schools

Student & Educator Recognitions 

Decorative ImageCHS teacher introduces Montana Cares app video

Capital High School Fine Arts Teacher Kimberly Cook has unveiled a new video aimed at encouraging students to use the district’s new “Montana Cares” safety app.

The video walks students through how to use the app to anonymously report safety or mental-health concerns and to find community resources to help themselves, a family member or a friend.

Ms. Cook was inspired to support the new app – a project of District Health Administrator Lona Carter – by a 2019 school safety report conducted by the United States Secret Service.

Analyzing 20 years of data, the report found that in 89 percent of school violence cases, knowledge of the threat was shared prior to the incident with staff or students, either verbally or electronically. The report urged schools to implement confidential reporting systems and encourage a “see something, say something, do something” mentality.

“I just want kids to feel safe when they’re in our buildings and know that there are resources they can use to report issues and help us all stay safe,” said Ms. Cook.

Most importantly, the app allows two-way communication and follow up. 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.

View the Montana Cares app video here. The app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

District Safety & Operations Manager Neal Murray holds an AED donated by the Helena Police Department.

District Safety & Operations Manager Neal Murray holds an AED donated by the Helena Police Department.

AEDS now installed in all district buildings

Potentially life-saving AED (Automated External Defibrillator) devices are now installed in every Helena Public Schools building. Helena Public Schools is deeply grateful to the Helena Police Department, which donated the AEDs as it upgraded to new devices. And a big thanks to District Safety & Operations Manager Neal Murray and our team of school nurses who worked to install the devices, train staff and get the AEDs registered and verified with the Montana Department of Health & Human Services.

We’re also grateful to Mr. Murray for spending last weekend conducting tests of the district’s emergency notification system.

Find out how the proposed Safety & Security levies would help our district continue our work to keep students and staff safe.





A Capital High HOSA Club member talks about the benefits of joining the club at this spring's 8th grade orientation visit.

A Capital High HOSA Club member talks about the benefits of joining the club at this spring’s 8th grade orientation visit.

CHS HOSA Club members medal at state

Congratulations to the members of our CHS HOSA Club who medaled at the State HOSA (health occupations) Competition at Montana Technological University in Butte.

Pathophysiology: 1st Tanner Davis

Biotechnology: 1st Lyric Lanes

Clinical Lab Science: 2nd Evelyn Dachs

Family Medicine Physician: 3rd Fiona Kuntz

Mental Health Promotion: 3rd Katie Kananen and Matteo McRae

Public Health: 1st Paedyn McArthur, Abby Charlton, Adam Grasmick, Riparian Moler

Researched Persuasive Writing and Speaking: 2nd Fiona Kuntz

Community Awareness: 3rd Icelyn Frandsen and Chloe Zimmerman

Creative Problem Solving: 3rd Ellie Mercer, Emily Sutherland, Alexis Beckman Gomez

Health Career Display: 2nd Vienna Teders and Addy Perschon

ATC Family Medicine Career Test: 2nd Charlie Snellman

ATC Anatomy and Physiology Test: 3rd Ellie Mercer

ATC Biology Test: 1st Charlie Snellman

ATC General Chem Test: 1st Charlie Snellman

ATC Human Heredity Test: 2nd Lyric Lanes

First-ever 6th Grade Career Exploration Day is a success

Last, but not least, special thanks to all of the businesses and community organizations that hosted that made this month’s first-ever “6th Grade Career Exploration Experience” a huge success!

Over the course of two days, every 6th grader in the district had the opportunity to visit local employers, with each student exploring up to nine different careers! Thank you to all who participated and to our host sites: Dick Anderson Construction, Helena College, The Holter Museum of Art, Montana Wild and St. Peter’s Health.

District Health Administrator Lona Carter led the project in partnership with Bethany Coe, Lewis and Clark County Prevention Specialist, and Sarah Graham of Youth Connections, Communities That Care, and Southwest Montana Prevention.

The Helena Independent Record dropped in on CR Anderson Middle School’s career exploration visit this week at St. Peter’s Health.

Pic of the Week

Picture of two girls in the CHS Unified PE class with big smiles holding a freshly caught trout.