2022 MCEL Sessions

Schedule subject to change - 

Pre-Conference Session
Wednesday, October 19, 2022

10:00 am - Noon
MTSBA Board Meeting

12:30 – 2:30 pm
Embracing Personalized Learning: The stakes could not be higher! – MCEL Partners
Over the past decade, the laws encompassing public education in Montana have been written to allow unprecedented flexibility.  With the 2023 Legislative Session just around the corner, the issue of “Value of Public Education” is already front and center.  A question that can already be heard echoing in the halls is can private education do it better? The MCEL partners will walk participants through what options and flexibilities our public schools currently have for personalized learning, discuss stumbling blocks our public schools have encountered, and a preview of what we can expect from the 2023 Legislature and the push for charter schools if our local public schools do not embrace the flexibilities that support personalized learning.

2:45 – 4:45 pm 
Parent and Community Engagement and Strategic Governance – MTSBA Legal Staff
It’s one thing to talk about flexibilities, options, and personalized learning but how can it be made a reality in your district?  After learning about all the various options school districts can utilize under current Montana Law, MTSBA staff will walk participants through how to effectively and positively engage parents and community members through the trust and transparency that can be effectuated through (1) embracing our open meeting laws and (2) a commitment to strategic and visionary leadership and governance.

5:00 - 6:00 pm
MQEC Board Meeting

Conference Session
Thursday, October 20, 2022

8:15 - 11:30 am

Opening General Session 

Awards Ceremony

Opening Keynote: Lessons Learned. . . Crisis Response During One School’s Tragedy – Jason Russell

Jason Russell is often asked to assist in post-incident recovery and management. On November 30, 2021, Jason was called to Oxford High School in Oxford, Michigan to provide guidance and support to the Oxford School District leadership after the tragic shooting which claimed the lives of four students and injured several other students and staff. His assistance began just minutes after the incident; Jason continues to be an integral part of the district’s safety and security team today.

In this session, Jason will discuss his role and responsibilities from the moment he arrived at Oxford High School. He will describe the procedures and responses the school district implemented, with his guidance, after the incident and the impact those had on managing during a time of crisis. Specifically, Jason will discuss the importance of crisis communication, the need for critical incident response, and the legal ramifications for the school district and associated personnel. In addition, Jason will discuss the need for a behavioral threat assessment to identify students in crisis and the resources for mental health support.  Join Jason to learn strategies that will hopefully assist in preventing a terrible event such as this one from occurring in Montana public schools.

1:00 - 1:50 pm

Tier 3: Not Just You and ME! – Jon Konen and Norah Barney

As behaviors and social and emotional needs continue to rise in schools, what can we do as educators to best support students and staff? SEL(PBIS + Tier 3 Interventions) = Strong Supportive Learning Environment. In this session, you will build a foundation for understanding the importance of school culture in building a successful MTSS program.  We’ll explore the different systems needed as well as the universal beliefs that every school needs in order to build a successful program.

MCS - Underwriter - Pictures Worth a 1000 Words! MCS’s School Construction/Pre-Construction Partnership – Dave Puyear, Nick Pancheau, President of CD Architects, Brian Johnson, Architect/Principal of CD Architects, Mark Qualman, President of QuEst
In dealing with School Construction and Pre-Construction, actual pictures of completed projects and those currently underway can be extremely helpful during the concept and development phases of school construction.  This fast-paced “slide show” session will provide school leaders with an overview of projects from across Montana.

School Safety and Security – Strategies for Providing a Safe and Secure Learning and Work Environment MTSBA Legal Staff
During this session, we will discuss the available resources available to Montana Public Schools to improve school and student safety security.  This will include an overview of legislation passed over the course of the last decade to assist school districts to enhance their safety and security programs, model policies and procedures that have been developed to provide guidance for school leaders, as well as legal considerations when faced with school safety and security issues.

Platinum Sponsor Audio Enhancement - The Fantastic Four: Audio Enhancement’s VIEWpath, Audio, EPIC, and SAFE Solutions that boost any classroom
Tanner Anderson, VP of Sales, Audio Enhancement
This presentation will highlight Audio Enhancement’s 4 integrated solutions and how they can help schools streamline the constant challenge of effective, timely, and equitable communication. The 4 solutions include classroom Audio System, SAFE emergency distress system, EPIC intercom system, and VIEWpath classroom camera system.

We will discuss the power of a true IoT (Internet of Things) platform to take advantage of the investment of network infrastructure and how this can impact students, teachers, faculty, and staff daily. We will highlight how you can use this platform for campus communications, including intercom, paging, notifications, and bells, providing both visual and auditory signaling, and creating enhanced layers of safety by integrating with access control systems and other building infrastructure systems. The integration of duress buttons also increases safety with the teacher microphones they wear every day because of the positive impact on student outcomes.

2:00 - 2:50 pm 

Educators Rising: Creating a “Grow Your Own” programCurtis Smeby, Ed.D and Lisa Rollins, Educators Rising
The session will provide participants with an overview of Educators Rising in Montana and update those attending on its development in the state. The conversation will be interactive and focused on supporting school districts as they enhance the opportunities for their high school students to consider becoming a Montana educator. Educators Rising supports this outcome to improve educator recruitment and retention. Educators Rising builds confidence in their teaching skills, creates lesson plans, and practices professionalism. Working with students is sure to inspire or increase your students' passion and solidify their desire to continue on the path to becoming an educator in Montana.

MCS - Underwriter - Montana’s School Food Services – Strategies for Addressing the Current Challenges Facing School Food Service Budgets and Kitchens Across the State - Dave Puyear
School Food Service Budgets and Kitchens have been hit with a wide variety of challenges during the last couple of years.  MCS, Montana’s largest school food service purchasing cooperative, will facilitate this discussion of the current challenges and a variety of proposed solutions in addressing these issues.

Communicating Budget Documents to Your Community - Brian Patrick, Director of Business Operations, Great Falls Public Schools.

It is now more important than ever to provide the public, staff, and your Board with clear information about public school budgets and funding. Obtain tools that will allow you to present your district's information to your community.

Sponsor T.E.S.T., Inc. - Three Simple but Tough Questions!! – Liz Cunningham  
T.E.S.T., Inc. has been partnering with Montana schools for the past 23 years in evaluating and implementing technology solutions. T.E.S.T. is best known for providing the best in classroom solutions but did you know that over the past 10 years, T.E.S.T. has been consulting and working with schools to implement the best in Safety and Security as well? Aside from a child’s home, schools are viewed as the second safest institution in the community. School safety and security challenges remain a multilayered and complex issue facing school leaders today. T.E.S.T., Inc. recognizes there is no single solution to making schools safe. Protecting students and faculty is an immeasurable moral and legal responsibility that school leadership must address. T.E.S.T. acknowledges that the “roller-coaster” effect of school policies, community politics, complacency, and inadequate funding are impediments that all school districts face. Security protocols are a fundamental obligation of school leaders, who face daily pressure to ensure that students are protected, often without significant security expertise. T.E.S.T.’s mission is to help ensure schools remain the one place in which every student and faculty feels safe and secure from harm. When it comes to security, school districts are faced with three simple but tough questions. What should we do? How do we prioritize? How do we pay for it? Please join us for an overview of a variety of safety and security solutions that we have helped many schools across Montana implement. T.E.S.T. has built a premier team of diverse employees and partners to serve Montana Schools. Join us as we help provide answers to those three tough questions!

3:00 pm – 3:50 pm 

MSGIA - Underwriter - Cyber Vigilance is not Optional!
Dianne Burke, University of Montana Cybersecurity Faculty and Director, CyberMontana and Matt Komac, MSGIA Assistant Director for Property and Liability Pool Operations
Join Dianne and Matt for this session for a bird’s-eye view of the cybersecurity landscape in K-12 education. Understand the five most common cybersecurity exposures and learn the five most important cybersecurity precautions your district can implement to counter these exposures.  Network and cyber security have become a top agenda issue for school districts in Montana and this session will give your district the tools to address it head-on.

OPI - Regulations and Rulemaking - Rob Stutz and Rick Wootton, OPI Legal Staff
Discussion will revolve around the negotiated rulemaking requirement for accreditation standards and the process for negotiated rulemaking, using the example of the current Chapter 55 rulemaking that is before the Board of Public Education. Questions and comments are encouraged!

Offsetting General Fund Expenditures with Other Funds - Shelley Turner, MASBO and Steve Hamel, MASBO
Making your general fund dollars stretch becomes harder and harder, especially when other funding sources dry up.  Permissive levy dollars, ESSER funding, interlocal and/or multidistrict agreements, and more provide Districts with flexibility to utilize all funding sources effectively and efficiently.  

Sponsor DA Davidson - Increasing Success in Montana’s Public Schools Through Completion of Capital Improvement Projects  - Thom Peck, Superintendent, Lewistown Public Schools, Rebeckah Rhoades, Business Manager/District Clerk, Lewistown Public School, Erik Wilkerson, Superintendent, Jefferson High School, Lorie Carey, Business Manager/District Clerk, Jefferson High School, Bridget Ekstrom, Senior Vice President, D.A. Davidson & Co., Dan Semmens, Partner, Dorsey & Whitney LLP
Despite challenges presented by COVID, Montana School Districts in 2020, 2021 and early 2022 have experienced good luck passing school bonds and completing school building projects with 14 of 16 elections passing from April 2020 through April 2022. However, since May of 2022, only 3 of 12 bond issues have passed as new economic concerns influence voters. As schools look ahead to implement their capital plans, this MCEL session will provide an interactive format for attendees to learn from the recent experience of Lewistown Elementary District and Jefferson HS District who both issued bonds in early 2022 and hear the keys to prepare for the future by: (1) putting together a capital improvement plan for the district, (2) communicating with the community in passing the bonds at a bond election, (3) issuing bonds with favorable financing terms and (4) designing, constructing and managing the construction projects.

4:30 pm – 6:30 pm
MASBO Board Meeting

4:30 pm – 7:00 pm
SAM Board Meeting

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Joint MREA & MCS Reception – Everyone Welcome



Conference Session
Friday, October 21, 2022

7:00 – 8:00 am
MSGIA/MTSUIP Membership Breakfast Meeting 

8:00 - 9:00 am
SAM Membership Meeting

MASBO Membership Meeting

MTSBA Delegate Assembly

9:10 - 10:00 am

Superintendent and Business Manager Teamwork - Working Together for Efficient Operations and Budgeting - Rex Weltz, Superintendent and Janelle Mickelson, Business Services Administrator, Helena Public Schools, and Dave Wick, Superintendent and Dustin Zuffelato, District Clerk from Columbia Falls Public Schools
Teamwork and communication between the Superintendent and Business Manager is vital for efficient operations and budgeting in your District.  No one wants to miss a deadline or duplicate efforts.  This session will provide tools and tips to ensure your team is working like a well-oiled machine. 

Sponsor McKinstry Inc. - Alternative Construction Delivery: Using Care Act and Inflation Reduction Act Funding for School Construction Halvor Kamrud, Business Development Manager
McKinstry representatives will present opportunities for additional funding for construction services for Montana k-12 schools. The session will provide in-depth information regarding the Inflation Reduction Act and specific opportunities in alternative energy sources.

10:10 - 11:00 am

SAM LPLP:  The Importance of Mentorship for Leaders SAM Staff
SAM’s Leaders Professional Learning Program (LPLP) provides personalized professional learning connecting new, experienced, and aspiring administrators through a multi-faceted blended learning approach that includes one-on-one coach mentoring, a comprehensive online resource center, and Collegial Learning Networks! Join the SAM LPLP team as the 2022-23 SAM LPLP program develops strategies to support the work of our schools all across Montana.  This session is open to all SAM LPLP participants and conference attendees interested in learning more about SAM LPLP.

Rural School Issues in Montana - Dennis Parman, MREA
Learn about rural school issues at the federal level, state level, the Board of Public Education, and the OPI. Bring your questions and concerns.

The Employment Relationship from Beginning to End – Part 1 - MTSBA Legal Staff
Part I – This session will focus on how to attract employees with a clear focus on the interests of students, pitfalls to avoid during the hiring process, setting high expectations of staff and creating a positive working environment for employees from the onset of the employment relationship

MUST - Underwriter - Empower Your Employees to be Smart Shoppers - Jim Mepham, Marketing Representative and Jeff Goody, Director of Sales/Marketing
This presentation will provide you with tools to help your employees understand their health insurance options when dealing with providers, web-based services, RX, etc.

11:10 am - 12:00 pm

Indian Education for All - What to know and What's Out There – Zach Hawkins
This session will provide a basic overview of Indian Education for All and its underpinnings in Montana’s constitution and statute.  Additionally, it will cover the Essential Understanding regarding Montana Indians and the OPI IEFA Implementation Framework.  Lastly, there will be resources and ideas shared and a tour of the OPI IEFA website. 

Recruiting Teachers to Rural Schools in Montana
- Dennis Parman, MREA
We all know how hard it has been recruiting all staff to rural Montana. MREA has spent eighteen months helping member schools recruit online using Facebook advertisements. We now have 7,000 followers nationwide (and the world). There have been several new effective strategies used this past hiring cycle and we know you have had to get very creative as well. Come learn about and share what strategies are working that might help refine your recruiting practices to be more effective.

The Employment Relationship from Beginning to End – Part 2 - MTSBA Legal Staff
Part II – This session will focus on how to hold employees accountable through effective evaluation strategies, plans of improvement and disciplinary measures when necessary.  

ESSER Funding Updates - Shelly Turner, MASBO and Wendi Fawns, OPI
In this workshop you will learn best practices for processing ESSER funds and meeting grant requirements. Templates for Amendments, Cash Requests, and Capital Expenditures will be explained saving you time and effort.  Examples will be shared on how to engage stakeholders and secure additional funding by leveraging ESSER and softening the anticipated 'cliff'.  

12:10 - 1:00 pm

ISBC - Underwriter - Closing Keynote - Levi Horn
Former Griz and Chicago Bear Levi Horn will share some of his uplifting stories about the impact education and educators have had in his life. Plus, explore our “Why” and practice some self-care. 

 Levi’s emphasis on empowering and supporting youth in pursuing excellence will give us just the right send-off at the end of MCEL 2022. We are excited to have him back in Missoula and appreciate the support and leadership of MTSBA’s Indian School Board Caucus in making it happen.