Leaders from across Montana’s public education spectrum met in Helena Tuesday to discuss shared priorities for improving the experience and results for the state’s students.
Gov. Steve Bullock convened his administration’s first meeting of the Board of Education, which consists of members of the Montana Board of Regents and Board of Public Education as well as representatives from the Office of Public Instruction. The governor chaired the more than four hour meeting in the state capitol building. He said the framers of the Montana Constitution called for such meetings for a reason.
"All the way from early childhood through post-secondary, it is all part of the fabric of our educational system,” Bullock said. “To share our perspectives and hear what one another is doing I think is that much more essential."
Bullock listed positive trends he is seeing in the state’s educational system, such as the implementation of full-day kindergarten, a lowering in the state’s dropout rate, and a greater emphasis on two-year post-secondary education options. He then listened as each member of the board discussed their priorities. Several focused on the growing importance of early-childhood education.
“So that every child has access to enter kindergarten being prepared to learn,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau. “I think you heard it reflected both from K12 advocates and post-secondary advocates."
The Board of Regents reached an agreement with state legislators and Bullock’s office earlier this year the parties called the ‘College Affordability Plan.’ In exchange for more funding, regents agreed not to raise tuition and to take steps to make a portion of that new funding for state colleges and universities performance based.
"We can have performance standards, expectations of what the taxpayers are getting for the dollars that they invest; and we'll work on college completion, dual enrollment--making sure we have an educated workforce," Bullock said.
The governor said he hopes to convene the full Board of Education every six months to work on their shared goals, including legislative efforts.