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Missoula County Public Schools – Plan in works to keep kids in school – Pilot projects to improve education in community

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“This is something that will be undertaken by the entire community, because it’s about the whole community,” said Apostle, who has rounded up a committee of nearly 30 people from schools, the University of Montana and the business community. “Keeping kids in school isn’t just the responsibility of schools and teachers and parents. It’s about the larger community, and that’s why we’re reaching out.”

Although Missoula is blessed with good schools, it has a dropout problem, just like the rest of the country. Between 25 percent and 30 percent of students who start school fail to finish high school.

“That’s not acceptable to me, and that’s why we’re going to do better,” Apostle said.

Missoula County Public Schools

By MICHAEL MOORE of the Missoulian

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Pilot projects to improve education in community

About a year ago, representatives of Missoula County Public Schools, local private schools, the Missoula Area Economic Development Corp. and the University of Montana found consensus in the need for action. To that end, we agreed on some pilot efforts while awaiting a Missoula Area Education Summit to outline a full agenda.

The pilot projects focused on actions that can make a difference immediately without requiring long-term commitments. We have created an academy for high school and university math teachers that provides professional development assistance. We also participate in the ongoing Montana Math and Science Teacher Initiative to assure an adequate supply and retention of qualified math and science teachers. We have several more such projects in the works.

The Nov. 12 summit sought to explore the current situation and to develop an action agenda for implementation. Three separate work groups discussed issues and submitted recommendations that fit well with all we have initiated to date.

Alex Apostle is Missoula County Public Schools superintendent, George M. Dennison is president of the University of Montana, and Dick King is president of the Missoula Area Economic Development Corp.

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