Friday Update from Superintendent Weltz | May 10, 2024

Dear Families,

If there’s one thing I want you to know today, it’s that our district will put the well-being of your children first as we navigate a new fiscal reality.

We face a difficult a journey, but one that we’ve planned for.

Even as we all hoped for the best – using the levy process to seek the resources our students need – the district was preparing for the possibility of major budget reductions.

Last year, we established a Budget Recommendation Consensus Committee made up of parents, educators, union representatives, community members and other stakeholders. Over the course of nine months, this group developed and reached consensus on a list of recommended budget cuts and reductions for the 2024-25 school year.

The Board of Trustees will now look to this list to finalize a balanced budget for the 2024/25 school year in advance of the August deadline.

As always, the Board’s work will be open to the public and will occur over the course of multiple public meetings. I will continue to provide updates and information in these Friday letters, on our website and on social media.

I don’t believe this week’s “no” votes were cast against our teachers or the incredible work our district does for our community. Nor do I think voters wanted to deny children the safe schools and technology they need and deserve.

Citizens faced difficult decisions on this ballot, especially those getting by on fixed incomes. Homeowners paid skyrocketing property tax bills this year; Yet, the additional dollars did not change the bottom line for schools. This occurred even as AA districts across the state face seven-figure budget shortfalls.

This week, local voters went to the polls to say they are no longer willing to pay rising state property taxes and shoulder an ever-growing portion of the cost of public education.

In the months ahead, I will continue to work with our fellow AA districts and public education advocates to seek solutions at the state level.

Meanwhile, as we ready for a new and leaner school year, please know that we will continue to put the interests of your students first. Watch for more information to come.

In other district business, I would like to announce administrative changes for the 2024-25 school year as we fill retirements of three veteran administrators and tighten our administrative team in response to next year’s funding needs.

We will celebrate the incredible careers of the following retiring administrators in the coming weeks: Helena High Principal Steve Thennis, Helena High Assistant Principal Willie Schlepp and Helena Middle School Assistant Principal Dawn Rowling. Please join me in congratulating these veteran educators and welcoming the following outstanding leaders to their new roles, which they will step into this summer!

Helena High School Principal Brian Kessler
Mr. Kessler comes to us from East Helena, where he served the past three years as principal of East Helena High.

Chosen from a strong field of applicants, Mr. Kessler believes that a principal’s relationships with families, students and staff are the foundation of a warm and caring school that welcomes all who enter. He strives to involve all stakeholders in each student’s education to foster growth.

Mr. Kessler earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Montana State University. His teaching experience includes two years at Sleeping Giant Middle School in Livingston and five years at Helena High. He also served as assistant principal at HHS for one year and Havre High School for one year.

Mr. Kessler loves hiking in the Montana outdoors and spending time with his family.

Special Education/Student Services Director Lona Carter
Veteran administrator Lona Carter will step into the role of special education/student services director this summer as current Director Sean Maharg returns to the classroom.

Ms. Carter has served in a number of teaching and administrative roles. She has launched multiple successful programs in her current role as district mental health administrator, a position which is being eliminated.

Helena High School Assistant Principal Eric Peterson
Current CR Anderson Middle School Assistant Principal Eric Peterson is moving to Helena High to replace retiring  HHS Assistant Principal Willie Schlepp. Mr. Peterson was a math teacher and girls basketball coach at HHS for a number of years before moving to CRA.

CR Anderson Middle School Assistant Principal Trish Klock
Current Hawthorne Elementary Principal Trish Klock is moving to CR Anderson Middle School this fall to replace Assistant Principal Eric Peterson, who is moving to Helena High. Ms. Klock taught at Helena High School before becoming an elementary school principal. She also serves on the district’s educator mentoring team.

Helena Middle School Assistant Principal Erin Maxwell
Current Bryant Elementary Principal Erin Maxwell is moving to Helena Middle School this fall to replace retiring Assistant Principal Dawn Rowling. Ms. Maxwell has served as administrator for the PEAK Gifted & Talented Program and Special Education Preschool.

Recruitment is currently underway for the Bryant and Hawthorne principal positions.

Last but not least, I would like to congratulate our Bryant Elementary fifth graders who earned honorary degrees from Helena College today, after a year of sampling various courses through a partnership between the college and the district.

Thank you to the Independent Record for truly capturing the “pride on their faces.”

That’s a lot of news and that’s all for today.

I want to wish all of our moms a Happy Mother’s Day. You deserve beautiful weekends like this one all year long.


Signature: Rex M. Weltz








Rex M. Weltz, Superintendent
Helena Public Schools

District News 

Screening now available for “KinderSprouts” preschool program

Helena Public Schools is conducting free screenings for “KinderSprouts” – a public pre-school program opening this fall.

Created under House Bill 352 passed by the 2023 Legislature, KinderSprouts is an early literacy intervention program for four-year-olds. The Legislature funded the program with the aim of ensuring that all Montana students have the opportunity to become proficient readers by the third grade.

Students must be four years of age to participate and, as required by House Bill 352, must be admitted via a screening process to determine whether they would benefit from early literacy intervention.

Families are encouraged to register for a screening as soon as possible. To register or learn more, visit or call Ms. Stevens at 406-324-2047.

Photo of three CHS students holding plants in a greenhouse with a teacher in the background with graphic reading: Pic of the week. CHS Plant Sale






















The Capital High School Spring Plant Sale is Wednesday, May 22, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Capital High Greenhouse. Many students and staff have been involved in tending the more than 1,500 plants in the greenhouse this year.