Education

The University of Montana might just meet its modest student enrollment goals for fall semester, which starts this week.

University of Montana President Sheila Stearns says she obsessively watches student enrollment projections. During a start-of-fall-semester convocation Wednesday, Stearns said that, while fall semester’s final numbers won’t be tallied for a few more weeks, she likes the early indicators crossing her desk.

The University of Montana’s faculty union is accusing UM’s administration of violating its own policies regarding hiring contracts for campus lecturers.

The University faculty union filed a formal grievance Thursday against UM for how it’s handling non-tenured faculty. Union spokesperson Lee Banville says at least 34 lecturers received notification from the University that they will not be rehired for spring semester 2018, despite signing an annual contract.

More than $97 million in state budget reductions are scheduled to kick in August 15, and, across the state,, school districts are preparing to adapt to their share of the cut.

Funding for public education in Montana will decrease by about $19 million over the next two years as declines in state revenues mean across-the-board budget reductions to state agencies.

Montana State University-Northern awarded a professor $50,000 to settle a racial discrimination complaint she filed against the school. The University did not admit guilt, but nonetheless agreed to pay the professor.

Adjunct professor Yvonne Tiger, who’s Native American, filed the complaint in July 2016.

A group of 25 college students from Iraq is visiting Missoula. They arrived on July 10,  just as Iraqi forces were reclaiming the city of Mosul from Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

The students are part of an exchange of Iraqi Young Leaders arranged by the U.S. State Department and the University of Montana with a focus on international peace building.

Montana’s Office of Public Instruction is unsure if its new draft plan to raise student achievement will comply with federal law.

State education leaders are required to submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Education in September, as part of the 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, which is the federal replacement for No Child Left Behind. 

Montana’s K-through-12 schools could face millions of dollars in cuts next month if state revenues don’t improve. The state Office of Public Instruction warned education groups and teachers’ unions about the possible hit to the agency’s budget during a meeting Thursday afternoon.

Funding for a Native American language preservation program could get cut next month if revenues don’t increase as the state fiscal year comes to an end. 

The State-Tribal Relations Interim Committee was briefed by legislative staff Thursday that budget cuts will be triggered in mid-August.

Amy Carlson, a Legislative Fiscal Analyst, says state revenues have continued falling below projections since lawmakers passed the state budget in April.

“Yes, we believe we will be hitting triggers," Carlson said, "certainly the most recent revenues would tell you that.”

In the digital age of communication, the new generation of people becoming police officers need more training in how to communicate with the public. That’s according to leaders at Montana’s Law Enforcement Academy. They say having a conversation as a cop is different than what many new recruits are used to.

Montana’s Law Enforcement Academy, which trains every new cop in the state, is getting an upgrade over the next few years. Lawmakers approved $6 million, despite the tight budget year, to begin remodels in the academy for new officers.

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