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MREA’s 4 Minute Survey of Member Priorities for the 2015 Session

(Non-Members Also Welcome to Respond)

With the new school year underway,  MREA is once again “fully engaged” in making preparations for the upcoming 2015 Biennial Session of the Montana Legislature starting in January here at the Capitol.

In the past few months a number of developments have occurred, including the release of TEAMS Data, which indicates a significant difference existing between teacher salaries across the state based on the size of the Montana school district.  In light of these recent developments,  the MREA Board of Directors is requesting  your input as we identify the final priorities that will direct our efforts here in Helena as we advocate for schools across Montana.

MREA is asking that you consider and rate the importance of MREA’s involvement in each of the following issues that have the potential to be important topics for K-12 education during the upcoming legislative session:

  • Remaining funding elements from SB 175 that are scheduled to increase funding and budget authority for schools in 2016  (Basic Entitlement Phase In, Data for Achievement Payment)
  • Application of Inflation for the funding formula in both 2016 and 2017
  • Governor’s Early Childhood (“Early Edge”) Pre-School Proposal
  • Addressing the  discrepancy identified by the TEAMS data in which Rural School Teacher Salaries are significantly lower than larger school salaries
  • Addressing the problems occurring for schools from increased Federal/State Mandates and the paperwork and time involved
  • Addressing the issue that the problem is NOT ONLY the Federal/State Mandates but also the manner in which OPI administers these requirements and reports (requiring duplicate data to be submitted etc…)
  • A limited tax credit for both public schools and private schools (Senator Jones’ proposal)
  • Active engagement in the 10 Year Study of Montana’s K-12 Schools that is required by state law and which will begin next year

To participate in helping MREA identify these final priorities, please log-on to:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MREAMembershipSurvey

I am very aware and remember what a busy time of year this is! And I want to thank each of you that  will dedicate a few moments of your time in completing  this  short on-line four-minute survey!!  Your responses will greatly  help MREA with our mission of advocacy for Montana’s small and rural schools during the upcoming legislative session.

 

MT-PEC/Zogby Poll Reflects Strong Support for Public Schools Among Montana Voters

September 2, 2014, Helena: The Montana Public Education Center released results of a recent poll of Montana Voters¹ opinions on K-12 Public Education Issues today. The poll was conducted by respected international polling and research company Zogby Analytics, using industry-standard methodologies with a margin of error of +/-4.5%. The poll results reveal a strong sentiment of support among Montana Voters for K-12 public education on a wide range of issues. Key results include:

Montanans Give Top Ratings to their Community Schools. When asked to grade their local community public schools, 66.5% of Montana Voters would give their local schools an A or a B.

Montana Voters Overwhelmingly Support Delivery of a Well Rounded Public Education. When asked whether K-12 Public Education should be well rounded or focus on the basics, 88.8% identified a preference for a well-rounded public education (including gifted and talented, music, art and physical education, technology, advanced placement courses) for Montana students.

Montana Voters Want To See K-12 Public Education Funding Prioritized First In State Budget Discussions. When asked to identify the highest priority among state budget priorities, K-12 public education was mentioned more frequently (54.2%) than any other spending priority.

Montana Voters Trust Educators Most to do right by Students in Montana¹s Public Schools. When asked to identify whom they trust most to decide what is best academically for students in Montana public schools, voters ranked teachers (39.6%) and locally elected school boards (27.1%) and school superintendents (9.4%) highest and the U.S. Department of Education (1.6%), and the Legislature and Governor (both at 0.4%) the lowest.

Montanans Oppose Tax Benefits for Private School Tuition. Voters oppose giving tax benefits for tuition at parochial schools by a 54%-41.2% margin. The margin of opposition to tax benefits for tuition at private schools is even more pronounced when queried for private schools without community-elected school boards (opposed, 66.6%-30%) and private schools not subject to open meeting, public document and public participation laws (opposed, 73.6%-21.1%).

Montana Voters Care About Their K-12 Public Education-Related Constitutional Guarantees. An extraordinarily high percentage of Montana Voters identified constitutional guarantees under Article X of the Montana Constitution as either ³very² or ³somewhat² important to them. Highest marks were given by voters to the guarantees of adequate and equitable funding by the Legislature (93.5%), supervision and control by elected school boards (90.9%) and general supervision and development of educational standards by the Board of Public Education (85.3%).

Montana Voters Believe State and Federal Mandates are Too Burdensome and Detract from Educators¹ Needed Focus on Instruction, Interaction with Parents and Keeping the Public Informed. When asked whether mandates imposed by Congress and the State Legislature are too burdensome, too lenient or about right, 57.4% chose ³too burdensome.² The results on this question were reinforced by Voters¹ answers on related questions, where Voters identified a strong preference for allocating teachers¹ and administrators¹ time on instruction of students, keeping the public informed and interacting with parents over complying with state and federal mandates.

For full polling results please click on the "Resources" tab above. The Montana Public Education Center is a joint initiative of the Montana Association of School Business Officials, MEA-MFT, Montana Rural Education Association, Montana School Boards Association, Montana Quality Education Coalition and School Administrators of Montana. Our Vision is for Montana's public schools to lead as centers of excellence, life-readiness and opportunity. We believe that Montanans everywhere must stand up and advocate for great public schools and the students our public schools educate.

 

MTSBA Joins forces with MREA to Save School Districts Money on Purchases

Helena, June 9, 2014:  MREA and MTSBA announced a new partnership in expanding access to MREA’s Montana Cooperative Services (MCS) purchasing program today.  The success of MCS over the last ten years has been compelling, helping school districts across the state enjoy tremendous savings on a wide variety of goods and services used in our public schools.  Those savings have in turn allowed many school districts to redirect resources that had previously been paid out in profits to third parties toward increasing student achievement.

This new partnership makes it possible for EVERY SCHOOL DISTRICT IN MONTANA to be part of these savings as you purchase products and services used every day in school buildings across the state at the lowest price available in Montana.  MCS has accomplished this success and with the resulting huge savings to our Montana schools as part of the national “AEPA”…the Association of Educational Purchasing Agencies.  Through AEPA, MCS here in Montana combines forces with education advocates in twenty-five other states as we go out to bid in demanding the very best prices for all of our schools on thousands of common products and services that our schools purchase every year.  MCS takes care of all of the state laws and the tremendous time involved in  dealing with state and federal bidding requirements…your school district then reaps the benefits of nationally leveraged pricing with all of these contracts awarded right here in Montana.

When your school makes a purchase through MCS your school is guaranteed the very best price available on QUALITY products or services that have met all of our rigorous national AEPA specifications.  You have the full backing of both MCS here in Montana and AEPA on the national level should you have problems with these vendors or services.  In addition to these local benefits for your district, your membership organizations receive a small service fee that is included in your savings that we use to expand and improve services and advocacy for our members before the Montana Legislature. 

If your school district has already joined MCS for the upcoming 2014-15 school year we want to thank you…you are now part of a much larger effort to save Montana schools even more money!  If your school district has NOT joined MCS we hope that you will join this statewide effort now supported and recommended by both MREA and MTSBA!

 



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