The purpose of this communication is to determine the perceived economic impact to district budgets that may be realized through the proposed rule amendment and new rule of the Administrative Rules of Montana (ARM) 10.55 Standards of Accreditation. School district administrators, county superintendents, school board trustees, school clerks/business officials, PK-12 teachers, and special education service providers are asked to complete the Economic Impact Survey Questionnaire. Community partners, tribal officials, law enforcement, and disaster and emergency personnel are encouraged to respond as appropriate to districts. Topics on the questionnaire include available resources, personnel, and professional development that your district may use currently or require in the future to adopt the proposed rule amendment and new rule and to administer hazard and emergency plans.

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction has initiated the negotiated rulemaking process to amend the accreditation standards. Results of amended standards of accreditation proposed by a negotiated rulemaking process are considered for adoption by the Board of Public Education based upon the recommendation of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Proposed changes to the accreditation standards require that the State Superintendent establish an independent negotiated rulemaking committee (Committee) under §20-7-101, MCA. Superintendent Arntzen selected 17 members to serve on the Committee.

The Committee met on August 14, 2018, and reached consensus on language for proposed changes to the accreditation standards incorporating the new legislative requirements. In consultation with the negotiated rulemaking committee, the Office of Public Instruction (OPI) is developing an Economic Impact Statement (per §2-4-405, MCA) relating to proposed accreditation standard changes as required.

The OPI needs your help to develop the Economic Impact Statement for the proposed accreditation standards rule amendment and new rule. Please review the language for the proposed rule amendment to ARM 10.55.701(2) Board of Trustees, and the proposed language for ARM 10.55 New Rule.

Background information on the OPI proposed rule amendment and new rule and instructions on how to complete the questionnaire can be found below, along with a list of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) definitions used in the questionnaire and rule documents.


In 2013, SB 348 amended §20-1-401, MCA, to require trustees to “adopt safety plans” and “certify...on or before July 1, 2014, that a school safety plan has been adopted.” New language was also included, allowing trustees to transfer state and local revenue from budgeted or nonbudgeted funds for expenditures relating to a range of safety measures, with a deadline of 2015.  In 2015, SB 213 further adjusted the same section of law and moved the deadline for expenditure transfers to 2019, with revised language to include “school safety plan or Emergency Operations Plan.”

In 2017, SB 307 amended §20-9-236, MCA, requiring expenditures made under §20-1-401, MCA, be made within two full fiscal years and removed the 2019 deadline along with other amendments. The 2017 amendment effectively ensures permanence to the ability to transfer state and local monies for school safety expenditures.

In accordance with the legislation, an extensive list of free resources is available to Montana schools on the OPI website. These resources help support the creation and administration of a comprehensive emergency operations plan. Resources include links to the FEMA website, the FEMA Emergency Management Institute, the U.S. Homeland Security website, and Montana Disaster and Emergency Services. Districts may also use some of their Title IV-A budget to support school safety expenditures.


The OPI, in consultation with the Committee, developed a questionnaire to determine the economic impact to district budgets. The questionnaire seeks information about perceived economic impact to district budgets that may be realized through the rule amendment and new rule.

The OPI values your input and asks that you contribute to the survey of the economic impact the rule amendment and new rule may have on your district budget. The Economic Impact Survey Questionnaire will be available for school districts from Monday, October 29, 2018 at 2 p.m. until Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 5 p.m.

See the definitions below for terms commonly used in the Economic Impact Survey Questionnaire and OPI Negotiated Rulemaking process for hazard and emergency plans.

Thank you for your time and effort to complete this questionnaire and assist in the survey process. If you have questions about the proposed rule amendment and new rule, contact Linda Vrooman Peterson at lvpeterson@mt.gov or 406-444-5726.


Hazard: “In disaster management, a hazard refers to the potential for a disaster.”

(Pearce 2000, Chapter 2, 12)

Emergency (or Disaster): an actual event when it occurs.

Prevention: the capabilities necessary to avoid, deter, or stop an event or emergency.

Mitigation: the capabilities necessary to eliminate or reduce the loss of life and property damage by lessening the impact of an event or emergency.

Response: the capabilities necessary to stabilize an event or emergency once it has already happened or is certain to happen in an unpreventable way.

Recovery: the capabilities necessary to assist schools and districts affected by an event or emergency in restoring the learning environment.