Friday, December 14, 2018

Mega Issues Board Work Session Planned for January 24, 2019

By Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

The Colstrip School Board of Trustees would like to invite the community to its next Board Work Session to review options to mega issues that may be faced by our community and schools with the closure of Units 1 & 2. The Work Session will be held at 6:00 PM in the High School Commons on January 24, 2019.



"Get out in front and stay there!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Obsolete Equipment Sales

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

The district usually has annual sales of obsolete equipment. This is the case for the current sale being managed by Smith Sales Company. The items listed in this sale are no longer suitable to use in a school setting because of age, safety factors or application.

The Board of Trustees follows a very strict set of procedures in identifying obsolete equipment and then advertising it appropriately for constituent approval.  The policy followed is 7251 Disposal of School Property without a Vote. See the Policy contents below.

The Board is authorized to dispose of a site, building, or any other real or personal property of the District, that is or is about to become abandoned, obsolete, undesirable, or unsuitable for school purposes.

To effect proper disposal, the trustees shall pass a resolution stating their decision concerning property disposal.  The resolution will not become effective until fourteen (14) days after the resolution is published in a newspaper of general circulation in the District.

Should any taxpayer properly protest the resolution during the fourteen (14) days after the date of publication, the trustees shall submit testimony to the court with jurisdiction.

Once the resolution is effective, or if appealed the decision has been upheld by the court, the trustees shall sell or dispose of the real or personal property in a reasonable manner determined to be in the best interests of the District.  Proceeds from the sale of fixed assets can be deposited to the general, debt service, building, or any other appropriate fund.
We hope that others find the items put on the current "obsolete" list useful and bid on them accordingly. In the mean time, the information given should help provide a better understanding of the process and why items are identified as "obsolete." Like always, the District appreciates your support.



"Get out in front and stay there!"

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Seeking Solutions: Community Input Desired

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

On October 24, 2018 the Colstrip School Board hosted a Workshop to discuss the mega-issues that may affect our community and school. MTSBA Debra Silk facilitated the meeting and used a Knowledge Based Decision Making Model to review the pending closure of Power Units 1 and 2 and the impacts that have the potential of impeding the School District’s ability to achieve the long term goal of the Colstrip School District to continue tp prepare our students for life, college and career readiness. 

The School Board would like to invite the public to a follow-up meeting to share in the discussion and planning of future options and considerations in regards to the discussions that took place at the October 24 Workshop. Tyler Bush, Senior Executive at McKinstry will facilitate this meeting. The next Workshop will take place at 6:00 PM on November 15, 2018 in the High School Commons. 

Your input in this process is valued and needed for addressing and finding solutions to the mega-issues identified above. We hope that you will be able to attend.


Knowledge-Based Decision Making Process
In addressing identified mega-issues that have the potential of impeding the School District’s ability to achieve the Envisioned Future, Colstrip Public Schools is committed to applying a knowledge-based decision making process.  The framework for this process in addressing and finding solutions to the mega-issues identified above is as follows:  
Question #1 – What do we know our students’ / parents’ / community’s / needs, wants and preferences that is relevant to this decision?
Question #2 – What do we know about the current realities and evolving dynamics of our community that is relevant to this decision?
Question #3 – What do we know about the capacity and strategic position of the Colstrip Public Schools that is relevant to this decision?
Question #4 – What are the ethical implications of our choices?



"Get out in front and stay there!"

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Transportation Transparency

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

Planning for the future includes updating equipment that has reached its useful life expectancy as well as replacing equipment that no longer functions. The District experienced both of these equipment dilemmas this fall with the replacement of a 28 year old food service van and with a 47 year old coal dump truck.

While the 1990 Ford Food Service Van continued to require increased maintenance and lacked the functionality of space and capacity to compliment newer food service equipment, the 1972 Coal Dump Truck had complete engine failure and no longer worked. Both the van and dump truck needed to be replaced.

The District was able to find viable solutions for both situations: 1) a van that provides ample room and capacity to load and unload meal carts and other equipment utilized in transporting prepared meals from the high school to the elementary and middle school; 2) a running dump truck to haul coal in order to heat the high school with a capacity to haul more coal than the 1972 truck reducing multiple trips from the mine to the upper parking lot of the high school.

A used 2017 Dodge Van was purchased for Food Service. It has 4.5 years and 20,000 miles of drive train warranty and the District installed a 4' Tommy Lift Gate to compliment the newer food service equipment as well as the head room to allow food service personnel to stand while moving serving carts in and out of the vehicle (saving back stress and possible workman's compensation claims, not to mention multiple bumps on the top of heads).

A used 2000 Dump Truck was also purchased to replace the 1972 Chevy Dump Truck that lost it's engine at the end of the 2018 winter.  Until the purchase of the newer truck, the District would have had to hire a third party vendor to haul coal at a premium price. The 2000 Dump Truck provides the District a larger bed and capacity to haul almost twice the amount of coal as the 1972 truck. This saves significant time and money in hauling coal reducing multiple trips. The 2000 Dump truck also provides versatility as it can be used to transport snow build-up out of District parking lots as well as other other landscape needs.

These types of purchases are necessary and made possible through the community's support. As you can see in the photos our hardworking staff are more than appreciative. Thank you Colstrip for your continued support on levys, activities and academics. You make a difference in the education of Colstrip Students.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Mega Issues facing the Colstrip School District

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

Over the past several years a number of changes (economic and otherwise) have taken place in our community. Some of these changes are of strategic importance and have been identified as mega issues by the School Board of Trustees.

With that in mind, the Board of Trustee would like to invite the community to join them on Wednesday, October 24, 2018 starting at 5:30 PM in the Board Room located in Frank Brattin Middle School to review current mega issues and identify new issues that are impediments to the School District and its Envisioned Future.


Mega issues are issues of strategic importance, which represent choices the school district will need to make in defining the ultimate direction of its long-range plan.  These issues represent potential impediments to achievement of the Envisioned Future and form a basis for dialogue about the choices facing the School District. Using a knowledge-based approach in gathering insights relative to Colstrip Schools’ strategic position and directional choices for each of the issues, these questions can serve as an ongoing "menu" of strategic issues and can be used by the Board to create regular opportunities for strategic dialogue about the future issues facing the school district.
Mega-Issue Questions:
How do we fully integrate and align our schools, our curriculum and our programs at all levels to ensure that we have interconnectedness at all levels and that students are transitioning seamlessly?

In light of the anticipation that 40% of our staff will be of retirement age in 5-10 years, what do we need to do to ensure that we are attracting and retaining highly qualified staff to meet the needs of our students now and into the future?  

How do we ensure that we are utilizing available and contemporary technological equipment and applications that enhance our students’ learning opportunities?

Knowledge-Based Decision Making Process
In addressing identified mega-issues that have the potential of impeding the School District’s ability to achieve the Envisioned Future, Colstrip Public Schools is committed to applying a knowledge-based decision making process.  The framework for this process in addressing and finding solutions to the mega-issues identified above is as follows:  
Question #1 What do we know our students’ / parents’ / community’s / needs, wants and preferences that is relevant to this decision?
Question #2 – What do we know about the current realities and evolving dynamics of our community that is relevant to this decision?
Question #3 – What do we know about the capacity and strategic position of the Colstrip Public Schools that is relevant to this decision?
Question #4 – What are the ethical implications of our choices?


Three-to-Five-Year Planning Horizon
Outcome-Oriented Goals and Strategic Objectives
The following thinking represents goals for the next five years. They are areas in which Colstrip Public Schools will explicitly state the conditions or attributes it wants to achieve. These outcome statements will define, "what will constitute future success." The achievement of each goal will move the school district toward realization of its Envisioned Future.
Strategic Objectives provide direction and actions on how the school district will accomplish its articulated goals.  All strategies included in the strategic plan should be considered accomplishable at some point in the future.  Strategic Objectives are reviewed annually by the Colstrip School Board, Staff Leadership Team, and faculty.

Goals of the Colstrip School District
Goal Area 1: Academic Improvement  
Statement of Intended Outcome, Five years:  Colstrip Public Schools has set a high academic bar with a one-hundred percent graduation rate.  We have established an educational program which meets the individual needs of students and allows students to progress according to their individual capabilities.     
One to Two Year Strategic Objectives:

  1. We will increase rigor and expectations in core academic areas that are an important foundation for our students.
  2. We will enhance opportunities for students in the areas of leadership, volunteerism and community service.
  3. We will enhance our positive behavioral supports to increase student awareness of acceptable social skills.
  4. We will enhance opportunities for students to be innovative and take part in project-based learning initiatives.
  5. We will improve the alignment of our schools, our curriculum and our programs.  
  6. We will enhance our recruitment and retention incentives and promote the positive attributes of our school and our community in an effort to attract and retain highly qualified staff for the success of our students.  
Goal Area 2: Fiscal Prioritization/Innovation
Statement of Intended Outcome, Five years:  Colstrip Public Schools has a fiscal prioritization plan and a plan/model for other methods of providing adequate funding of Colstrip Public Schools and its programs.
One to Two Year Strategic Objectives:

1.     We will enhance our school facilities to ensure that they meet the contemporary needs of our staff and students and promote student success.  
2.     We will increase the energy efficiency of our buildings, vehicles and other District property.
3.     We will enhance our efforts to more innovative in seeking out and tapping into a variety of both human and financial resources.
4.     We will enhance our advocacy for adequate funding at the federal, state and local levels.  

Goal Area 3: Community Involvement/Engagement
Statement of Intended Outcome, Five Years:    Colstrip Public Schools has created an environment of collaboration with families of students and with other educational stakeholders in the community.  As a result, the community is engaged educationally and interactively in the school environment.  Partnerships vital to the academic success and well-being of our students have been formed with educational stakeholders to assist the District in the delivery of our educational programs.      

One to Two Year Strategic Objectives:
  1. We will provide enhanced opportunities for the staff to educate the Board and the community about the great things/initiatives that are being carried out in our schools.
  2. We will provide enhanced opportunities to increase the community’s understanding of school funding and the financial needs of the District.
  3. We will enhance our opportunities to recognize and show our appreciation for our staff and others who positively impact students and/or provide enhanced learning opportunities for our students.
Goal Area 4: Safe and Healthy Environment for Students and Staff
Statement of Intended Outcome, Five Years:  Colstrip Public Schools has systems in place to ensure that students and staff thrive in a safe and healthy environment.  We have established collaborative and cooperative relationships with outside organizations/support groups which assist students in dealing with social issues which are an impediment to student achievement.
One to Two Year Strategic Objectives:
  1. We will enhance our wellness programs for our students and staff.  
  2. We will increase the awareness of our students, staff, parents and community on the harmful effects of bullying and harassment and other barriers to student success.
  3. We will enhance the security and safety of our buildings.  
Goal Area 5: Technology
Statement of Intended Outcome, Five Years:  Colstrip Public Schools has incorporated technology into all aspects of its educational offerings in such a manner as to prepare our students for a global environment.  We have done this in a systematic manner to ensure that our staff are comfortably utilizing technology through professional development opportunities and that our students are benefiting from the use of technology and other advancements, while at the same time educating students and staff about the ethical and accountability issues associated with the use of technology.
One to Two Year Strategic Objectives:
  1. We will enhance opportunities for staff to become proficient in technology equipment and applications that enhance student learning.
  2. We will provide enhanced opportunities to make technology equipment and applications that directly relate to our students and/or enhanced learning opportunities available to students, parents and community members.
  3. We will increase opportunities for students to utilize contemporary technology devices and application to enhance student learning.  
Goal Area 6: Recognition of/incorporation of American Indian culture
Statement of Intended Outcome, Five Years:   Colstrip Public Schools has been successful at both recognizing American Indian Culture and incorporating such culture into the curriculum. Students and staff understand and embrace diversity of our citizens and show a genuine appreciation for having the benefit of learning and understanding the importance of American Indian Culture.
One to Two Year Strategic Objectives:
  1. We will provide enhanced opportunities for American Indian involvement in the decision-making and governance processes of our school district.
  2. We will enhance the integration and coordination of the American Indian culture into all aspects of our educational opportunities for students, staff, parents and community members.
  3. We will increase student, staff, parent and community awareness of, appreciation for and celebration of our American Indian culture.

COME JOIN US! October 24, 2018

5:30 PM at Frank Brattin Middle School: Board Conference Room

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

All Means All: Creating Healthy School Culture

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

Anthony Muhammad, PhD, presenting to Colstrip faculty and staff.
The District hosted Anthony Muhammad, PhD, one of the most sought-after educational consultants in North America on Monday, September 24, 2018 for a full day of Pupil-Instructional-Related (PIR) activities.

Creating a healthy school culture was the focus of the PIR. His prescription for a healthy school culture is based on  1) Commitment, 2) Refection and 3) Prescription (see table). Muhammad's presentation provided additional clarity for many of the details that are currently in place in our District.

Muhammad said that it is a hard fact that "You can't hold people accountable for what hasn't been made clear and explicit. To this end he said change in a healthy culture requires Transformational Leaders. He asked our staff and participants to identify ten leadership qualities that are essential for good leaders?

After identifying and reviewing the ten qualities he suggested that these are also the qualities that should be expected of teachers and staff alike, adding that no person can meet all of the identified expectations, but all people can be transformational leaders and collectively provide the stated qualities. He said that "instead of looking out the window at others, the transformational leader must look in the mirror."

Muhammad went on to identify Transformational Leader Essentials:
  • Model integrity and fairness
  • Set clear goals
  • High expectations
  • Encourage others
  • Provide support and recognition
  • Stir people's emotion
  • Encourage people to look beyond their self-interest
  • Inspire people to reach for the improbable: Bass (1985).
Muhammad quoted a number of authors and research that aligns with transformational leadership by adding to the list above saying that in Jim Collins' book Good to Great (2001), also contributes to the essentials of transformational leadership in that transformational leaders should seek and confront the "brutal facts." In point of case, he said that "Crucial Conversations" are needed when stakes are high, but often avoided because of strong emotions and opposing opinions (2011; Patterson,, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High). Muhammad encouraged us to run toward our challenges and not away from them.

He suggested that healthy school cultures should limit "Adult Drama;" saying "Adult Drama" should be avoided as it results in dysfunctional social interactions between adult professionals within a school environment and interfere with the proper implementation of important policies, practices, and procedures that support the proper education of students.

Muhammad then referenced his book Transforming School Culture (2009) that outlines his study of 34 schools and their culture. From his research he was able to categorize the teaching culture into four types of professionals.
  1. Tweeners
  2. Believers
  3. Survivors
  4. Fundamentalist
Through the examination of each type's characteristics, Muhammad provided our staff the opportunity to look in the mirror to see which category might align with their beliefs and actions.

His concern was that "Fundamentalist" pose the biggest and critical challenge for schools to create a healthy culture, and that education is too critical to our society for leaders to allow a group of individuals who refuse to embrace substantive change to hijack it. His book says the "Fundamentalist might not have malicious intent, but their actions threaten to stunt the growth of the schools that serve our most needy students" (2009, p. 97).

 The implications of the training aligned with Muhammad's study of school culture in his book Transforming School Culture, in so much as, the schools studied that were able to create and maintain a healthy school culture were also able to eliminate the human distractions and focus on a collective purpose (p. 119).

Colstrip Public Schools has a Core Purpose. Perhaps it may serve as a systematic and school wide focus on learning for  collaboration needed to maintain a healthy school culture. A Core Purpose is vital to a healthy school culture (p. 121).   

Core Purpose of the Colstrip School District is to effectively focus on learning and growth for all students in a safe, healthy, caring and collaborative environment that ensures each student achieves intellectual and personal excellence and is well prepared for college and career pathways.

In review of the day's activities and information shared, our District is extremely thankful for Dr Muhammad and the time he spent with our educators. He was able to cover so much information in a short amount of time. Point of fact, the information included in this post represents a fraction of the that of which was covered in Dr. Muhammad's presentation. With that said, I was very proud of our staff and their participation and focus during this training. A number of compliments were shared and even though I have had the privilege of listening to Dr. Muhammad in other national venues, I was even more impressed with his direct impact on our staff.

Thank you Anthony Muhammad, PhD, for "Making Dust" with our educators here in Rosebud County. Our professional development was superb.



"Get out in front and stay there!"

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Parent & Community Breakfast Invitation

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

Colstrip Public Schools would like to bring our community closer together and invite the entire community to breakfast on the first Thursday of every month during the school year. There is no charge for this breakfast. The School District is creating this opportunity to share a cup of coffee and some biscuits and gravy with the parents and community while bringing everyone up to date with the latest news and calendar events going on here in your schools.

We will have an awesome presentation for you to watch while you eat.  In addition, there will be a round table talk from each of the building administrators.

Breakfast is served at 7:00 AM until 8:30 AM in the Colstrip High School Cafeteria. Don't miss this unique communication opportunity over breakfast.

The first Parent and Community Breakfast will be this Thursday, September 6, 2018.  Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and other relatives as well as students alike are welcome. 

Whether you are just getting off shift from work or getting ready to go to work, the District invites you to join us. Everyone, and that means everyone, is invited. Just park in the lower parking lot at the high school and come on in the front doors to the cafeteria. We will be anxiously awaiting you!

See you Thursday between 7:00 AM and 8:30 AM.



"Get out in front and stay there!"

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

Couple of seniors kicking things off!
Ready or not, school is about to begin. Welcome back students for a great school year! I am anxious to meet the students and see how everyone has grown over the summer. I have had the opportunity to see our athletes during their Fall Sport practices. Everyone looks a lot bigger, stronger and faster than a year a go. 

Classes at Colstrip Public Schools begin tomorrow, August 23, 2018. Just as a reminder, on Thursdays school is dismissed early for staff development so tomorrow is a partial day of school and will start and dismiss at the following times:

Pine Butte Elementary School: 8:15 AM - 2:30 PM
Frank Brattin Middle School: 8:15 AM - 2:45 PM
Colstrip High School: 8:05 AM - 2:35 PM

The buses will run on their regular schedules. 

The X-Country Team getting things started.
Friday, August 24, 2018 is the second day of school, but the first full day with the following schedule for start and dismissal:

Pine Butte Elementary School: 8:15 AM - 3:30 PM
Frank Brattin Middle School: 8:15 AM - 3:45 PM
Colstrip High School: 8:05 AM - 3:35 PM

I hope everyone is ready to "Make Dust" and have the best year ever! 
Welcome back! Let's get out in front and stay there!



"Get out in front and stay there!"

Monday, July 23, 2018

Our County Fair

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

On Friday afternoon (July 20), I was able to get away from the office and take a trip to Forsyth and proudly examine Colstrip student art exhibits as well as watch the Sheep Show at the Rosebud County Fair. As a former 4-H livestock exhibitor, college livestock judge, as well as a parent whose kids exhibited lambs, sheep and hogs at local, state and national shows, it was a pleasure going to our own County Fair and seeing a few familiar faces and names along side their exhibits.

Colstrip Elementary Artwork
I know my kids, like most kids, always enjoyed the carnival rides as well as the other spectacular events at the fair, but my wife Debra and I have alway taken special pleasure in seeing the fruit of students's work.

Watching my wife beam with pride as she looked over her students' 3rd Grade artwork was special. Then seeing a few of our students show their livestock brought back memories of hard work, dedication and perseverance that is needed in order to show these animals. Being in 4-H and FFA teaches students so much about leadership and life. I wish every student would take advantage of the opportunities provided by these organization.

It is with a special emphasis that I want to say to our Colstrip students that showed or had exhibits at the fair: "WAY TO MAKE DUST!" Your work is recognized and appreciated by many.  In addition, on behalf of so many, thank you for making your community, parents, school and this superintendent proud.

Now, for a little trivia, let me take this opportunity to say: I couldn't be more proud our Colstrip kids than Able Frank was of his prize boar or Melissa of her blue ribbon mincemeat (name that Hammerstein and Rogers Production).



"Get out in front and stay there!"

Friday, July 20, 2018

Major Maintenance and Summer Construction Projects Underway

by Robert "Bob" Lewandowski

Teaching students to be good stewards of what is entrusted to them is an educational value that we want students to learn. Setting a good example is essential; therefore, taking care of our school is paramount. Every summer the District works on major maintenance issues that cannot be addressed throughout the year when school is in session. This year's summer projects have been especially difficult to complete because of the early summer rain as contractors have a number of projects they are trying to complete in fair weather. Because of bad weather, contracted schedules get changed. This happens regardless to whether the projects are indoor or outdoor projects. As we move closer to this school year, we are completing projects that should have been completed at the end of June and mid July. Never-the-less, we are anticipating completing all scheduled projects and having our buildings ready for the new school year.

Here are a few of the major projects we have or are addressing before school starts:
  • CHS: identified pavement replacement in both the upper and lower parking lots (complete)
  • CHS: interior rooms LED lighting to replace the current florescent lighting (complete)
  • CHS: LED lighting in the parking lots to replace the current lighting (complete)
  • CHS: tree removal (complete)
  • CHS: addition of a Frequency Operated Button reader on door #17 (scheduled August 1)
  • CHS: sprinkler repairs on both the practice and football fields (in progress)
  • CHS: repaint identified classrooms (in progress)
  • CHS: repair leak in pool (complete)
  • CHS: remove and replace locker room carpet with epoxy based seamless flooring (scheduled July 26)
  • CHS: refinish the gym floor (complete)
  • CHS: mezzanine door replacement (scheduled early August)
  • CHS: complete the heat pump modification and fluid coolers on the roof (in progress)
  • CHS: repair airlock breezeway from door #17 (scheduled early August)
  • CHS: weed removal and spraying (in progress)
  • Bus Barn: erosion repair on hillside (complete)
  • Bus Barn: painting of lines and entrance bumpers (complete)
  • FBMS: exterior door repairs (complete)
  • FBMS: irrigation retrofit (complete)
  • FBMS: landscape of driveway median (scheduled)  
  • FBMS: refinish the gym floor (complete)
  • FBMS: replace and number interior doors (scheduled)
  • FBMS: weed removal and spraying (in progress)
  • PBES: carpet replacement in Rooms #1, #2, #3, #5,  and #14 (complete)
  • PBES: carpet replacement in hallways (scheduled August 6)
  • PBES: sprinkler repair (complete)
  • PBES: repaint main hallway (in progress)
  • PBES: replace the removable hanging wall in the gym/cafeteria (scheduled July 23)
  • PBES: repair of pot holes in drive (scheduled early August)
  • PBES: replace failing Smartboards with with interactive whiteboard technology (in progress)
  • PBES: weed removal and spraying (in progress)
As you can see this is quite a list in addition to normal maintenance and custodial work that is being done to get our buildings ready for the 2018-2019 school year. The District is diligent in preparing for our students return to school and we certainly ask for everyone's understanding and patience as we work to make our great schools even better.



"Get out in front and stay there!"