Quick Reference for COVID-19 School Closure

There is a lot of information coming to Rattlesnake’s community every day from many sources. We hope that this guide helps you find the information you and your family need during this time. We will update this as often as needed. Stay safe and we look forward to seeing everyone again!

This page is very long! It includes information on all the following topics. Please scroll down to find information on:

  • Meals
  • Remote Learning
  • Emergency Childcare
  • Mental Health
  • Monday Message from Mrs. Wright
  • MCPS District Communications
  • Community Resources and Updates
  • Keeping the kids engaged and entertained


During this school closure period, the MCPS school lunch, breakfast & weekend meal programs are open to ALL youth for FREE.  Any youth can receive free meals, regardless of free/reduced lunch status. Meals are available to ANY youth under 18 (even private school or homeschool students, or students from other school districts).


MCPS is maintaining a page with lots of detailed information on meal delivery for all schools.


  • Meals are delivered to the Rattlesnake School bus zone at 12:20 p.m. Monday – Friday. This means if you miss when the bus is at your stop, you can just pick up your meal(s) at your local school.
  • Beach Transportation will be delivering meals along regular bus routes Monday – Friday, starting at 11:00am. Please enter your address on the infofinder site to find the time your bus will be at your bus stop each day: http://www.infofinderi.com/ifi/?cid=MCPS4CVNG54XW
  • Monday – Friday each child will receive breakfast (for the following day) and lunch for the current day. On Fridays, you can also request a weekend food bag (packaged by the Missoula Food Bank, also called an EmPower Pack). If you would like to be added to the list of families that get an EmPower Pack, please email Stacy Jehle at sjehle@mcps.k12.mt.us and she’ll get you all set up.




Starting Monday, March 30 there will be weekly online lessons available for all content areas and grade levels. Thank you to our wonderful staff and teachers for making this happen!


Find grade-level team’s daily lesson plans from our beloved Rattlesnake teachers here starting March 30: https://www.mcpsmt.org/raremotelearning

  • These plans include both academic & “specials/enrichment” classes, and are designed to review and reinforce learning- not to introduce new things right now.
  • Additional district resources are available here: https://www.mcpsmt.org/Page/15143
  • If you have questions about the lessons and resources, please email your classroom teacher.
  • If you need help with getting loaner Chromebook from school, or internet access, please email Stacy Jehle at sjehle@mcps.k12.mt.us and she’ll do her best to help.


Right now, the teachers just want to keep the students engaged in learning- they are not doing any grades, assessments, or testing. Please, if you or your student is feeling pressure, remind them that the #1 priority right now is not schoolwork, via this lovely message of encouragement from our Superintendent Rob Watson: https://www.instagram.com/p/B-LLII5nlAW/


“The Missoula Family YMCA is now offering licensed emergency childcare to essential service workers. Missoula City-County Health Department defines essential service workers as first responders, medical workers, and city-county first responders.” Learn more on the YMCA’s site, http://ymcamissoula.org/emergency-childcare-services/


A message from our friends at the Missoula City-County Health Department:

“These are difficult times, and it is natural and normal to be experiencing strong feelings. There are a lot of changes and directives coming at us from many directions right now, but one thing we want to make sure you do is be gentle with yourself and take some time for your mental health. You’ll find mental health resources from the Missoula City-County Health Department.”


Mrs. Wright posts morning messages each Monday, with bonus messages the week of March 23rd! Your kids are used to watching these messages at school each Monday, and Mrs. Wright makes them for the audience of your kids! You can find all the messages on her YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCFzbSqhNLqrgrZ43RWGaKw/videos



Governor Bullock issued a shelter-in-place order, currently effective through April 24th, many of us might want easier ways to keep our pantries full and our kids busy. This is just a sampling of local organizations offering helpful information and/or services to our community.


Many grocery stores are VERY busy and may not have delivery or pick up times available right away, but it is worth calling them to find out!



Thank you to these great organizations offering online resources for our kids




Spring Fling: Canceled (or postponed)

*** The Spring Fling will not be held in person this year. If feasible, we will hold an online auction in mid May (roughly). We will update everyone in mid April with our decisions and resulting volunteer needs. ***

Hello awesome Rattlesnake parents and caretakers,
We are gearing up for our annual Spring Fling on Friday, April 3, 2020.
This is one of the few events where the whole school community gets to come together for some great family fun, in addition to being a vital fundraiser for the PTA.
What we raise during Spring Fling directly determines how many awesome and enriching things we can support at our school – field trips, visiting professionals to our classrooms, teacher grants, the Family Connection Center, and more.
Here is where you come in! Can you help in one or more of the following ways?

1. Volunteer to help plan the Spring Fling

  • Food Committee: Plan a menu, solicit donations, determine logistics of getting food to event and oversee food volunteers on the day of the event.
  • Raffle Lead: Solicit and organize items for a small raffle at the even (in the past we’ve had everything from a bike to lunch with Pam).
  • Decorations Committee: Help plan and prepare decorations for the event, or oversee volunteers on the day of event for set up.

2. Solicit or donate an item for the Silent Auction

The auction is the main way we raise money at the event. We are looking for anything
from locally made products to summer camps to music lessons to homemade items.

3. Sponsor or solicit a business sponsorship

Businesses or individuals can sponsor either our Spring Fling or the Fun Run with a financial donation and be recognized through marketing and social media for their donation. We have a pre-written letter and graphics that you can simply hand deliver, mail or email. Contact Molly at mollycottrell@gmail.com for more information.
Please reach let us know if you are interested in volunteering or if you have any ideas or questions. We appreciate all you do to help support our school community.
Thank you!
Molly Cottrell and Judith Bledsoe, Spring Fling co-chairs

Direct Donate 2019

The Rattlesnake PTA works with the teachers, staff, and community of our school to provide both funding and in-person support for special events, field trips, students and families in need, classroom materials, and educational enrichment. By donating to the Rattlesnake PTA this holiday season, your dollars directly support the programs that matter most to our students, staff, and community.

  • Donate between November 25th and December 31st 2019 to ensure your donation is counted towards meeting our annual goal. Donations received after the deadline are very much still welcome- it is just harder to keep track of our progress after that!
  • The suggested donation is $50 per child – this amount is approximately how much the PTA needs in donations, per child per year, to support our programs.
  • To donate online, visit: https://www.crowdrise.com/RattlesnakePTA
  • To donate with cash or check: Use the pre-addressed green envelope that came home with your child, or any other envelope if you’ve misplaced that one! When school is in session, you can send the envelope in your child’s classroom folder. Donations over winter break should be mailed to either of the addresses below. Checks should be made out to “Rattlesnake PTA.”

Mail to: 

Rattlesnake PTA, P.O. Box 7211, Missoula MT 59807

– or –

Rattlesnake PTA, 1220 Pineview Dr, Missoula MT 59802

Track our overall progress on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RattlesnakePTA/

Thank you for considering a donation today!

More Details on the Direct Donate Fundraiser

Background: The PTA’s Direct Donate Drive started in 2015 to allow families to give money to the PTA without having to buy or sell items like chocolates and wrapping paper. The Direct Donate fundraiser has since become the 2nd biggest annual fundraiser run by the Rattlesnake PTA.  Learn more about the Rattlesnake PTA’s major fundraising and event schedule here.

Goals: The net funds raised during the Direct Donation event in 2018 were over $10,000. The goal for 2019 is $12,000. We’ve kept our ambitious $12K goal this year for Direct Donate so that other community events during the year (such as the Spring Fling) can focus more on the FUN, and less on the fundraising!

Get the Word Out: We are committed to minimizing waste during this fundraising event by minimizing paper handouts so watch for email and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/RattlesnakePTA) reminders that you can share with others. You can also share the Crowdrise link with grandparents, family & friends who might want to support Rattlesnake Elementary.

Please feel free to return any unused green envelopes to your child’s teacher for reuse next year.

Online Fees: Anyone can donate by check, cash, or online — but you might want to know that donations by cash or check “go a little farther” because there are no transaction fees. Donations online via Crowdrise include two fees:

  • a 6% (of total donation) fee to use the online platform
  • separate credit card processing fee of 3- 4%, depending on size of donation

If you wish to maximize every penny of your donation, please consider sending a check instead. Make the check out to “Rattlesnake PTA” and send to Rattlesnake PTA, 1220 Pineview Dr, Missoula MT 59802.

Tax Info: The PTA’s legal name as defined by the IRS may show up on your receipt for donating on Crowdrise- that name is the “MONTANA CONGRESS OF PARENTS TEACHERS STUDENTS.” We are sorry for any confusion that might cause. Your donation will reach us!

The Rattlesnake PTA is a 501(c)3 registered nonprofit, tax ID #81-0448185.

If you have further questions about this fundraiser, please email the PTA at RattlesnakePTA@gmail.com


Missoula Climate Strike – Superintendent Watson’s message for parents of middle and high school students

Note from the Rattlesnake PTA: On September 15, 2019, Superintendent Watson sent out an email message to parents of middle and high school aged students regarding the Climate Strike. It was NOT sent out to elementary aged students’ families. We have copied and pasted the original email below for your general reference and information.

From: Rob Watson, MCPS Superintendent

To: MCPS Middle and High School families:

Our school district is aware of the Missoula Climate Strike and associated activities planned for Friday, September 20-27, 2019. We would like to provide students and their families with factual information to guide their decisions around participation in these events.

Our teachers, support staff, and administrators won’t discourage or resist student efforts to participate in the climate strike events. We also can’t encourage student participation in such events. School Board policy and state law prohibits employees of public organizations from participating in political speech while at work.

The school district can, and does, engage in the academic pursuit of knowledge about climate change as well as practical, implementable solutions to the problems connected with climate change. We know that climate change is real and we are committed to doing our part to create solutions to stop its devastating impact on our planet.  As a District, we have adopted Zero by Fifty goals aligned with the city of Missoula’s Zero by Fifty plan. We have actions connected to those goals across the district, including the solar installations being completed at four of our urban high school campuses which allow for student research; the recycling and composting pilot at Jeannette Rankin Elementary; and the 5th grade Zero Waste Ambassadors Program (ZWAP) conducted at all nine of our elementary schools in coordination with Home ReSource. We teach about climate change in our science classes following the Next Generation Science Standards. There are also inspiring instances of student leadership within the S.A.V.E. club at Hellgate and the Eco Club at Sentinel. These represent just a few examples of what we are doing to demonstrate our commitment to this issue, but as a District we know we can do more.  In the coming months, District administration has committed to engaging student leadership on this important issue in an effort to create future actionable steps.

Within our school environments, our first priority is to create safe learning spaces for our students.  This includes providing a safe environment that allows students to learn about controversial issues and develop and express educated opinions on these issues.  It is reasonable that students may discuss the strike in the normal course of classroom conversation on current events or in connection with other elements of District curriculum.  Civil discourse of controversial issues is an important part of our democratic process and as such should be practiced and encouraged in our educational environments. This practice is also supported by school district policy.

Procedures for the upcoming climate strike:

As we do each day, we will follow existing school-based procedures for reporting and managing absences during the period of climate strike events.

High school students who choose to leave campus on their own must be excused by parents. Students who are not excused by parents will be marked absent and the school will follow normal procedures for unexcused absences.

Middle school students must be signed out by a parent or an approved guardian. These students will not be allowed to leave campus without consent and the presence of a parent or approved guardian. If you plan to allow your child to leave campus with someone other than yourself, please provide notice at least 24 hours in advance to allow school staff time to process your request in our record keeping systems.

Students in any grade who miss class due to an excused absence will be afforded the opportunity to make up work.

We are asking students who choose to participate conduct themselves with respect, responsibility, safety, and to adhere to school policies and the law.  In addition, we expect that students participating in the event will not disrupt the school environment as classes will continue as normal. Thank you for your help in sharing these expectations with your student(s).

We are committed to working together with student and community leaders to support the exercise of their First Amendment rights and engagement in this important issue. We realize that our primary responsibility is to provide a safe and productive learning environment and our schools will all function on a normal schedule.


Rob Watson

Kindergarten Parent Orientation 2019

FOR SCHOOL YEAR 2019-2020 

The Rattlesnake PTA board took notes on the question and answer session during the Kindergarten parent orientation session in May 2019, and we’ve used those notes (as well as the notes and concerns from Kindergarten Roundup in prior years) to create this reference list for the parents of incoming kindergartners. Many thanks to Principal Wright for fact checking this document, and Molly, Leigh, Judith, and Lucia for staffing the PTA presence at Parent Orientation!


  • All families (K- 5th) should receive their class placement by email during the week ending on August 23rd 2019. If you do not receive an email or text by 5pm on August 23rd, please double check your spam folder, and then call the main Rattlesnake office (406-542-4050). 
  • Kindergarten classes up to 20 students have 1 teacher. If 21 or 22 students are in a Kindergarten class then assistants are in the classroom.


  • August 20th from 12:30- 1:30pm: School tour for new families of 1st to 5th graders. Siblings are welcome but please note this tour is not designed for incoming kindergarten families. Meet at the front main entry. This is a school event.
  • August 25th from 3-5pm: Kindergarten Playdate. Come to the playground and meet other Kindergarten families the Sunday afternoon before school starts! Stop by any time from 3-5pm to jump around on the playground and meet new friends. Hosted by the PTA.
  • August 27th TBD (estimated 10am-noon): Kindergarten Orientation for K only. Meet your teacher, see the classroom, get excited for school! This is a school event.
  • August 27th 5-6pm: Back to School Night for Grades 1-5 only. Meet your teacher, see the classroom, drop off supplies. Please note that while Kindergarteners are welcome to visit the school with an older attending sibling at this time, the Kindergarten classrooms will be closed and the teachers will not be on site from 5-6pm. This is a school event.
  • August 28th 8am- 930am – First Day Welcome Coffee – Swing by the school garden to meet other parents, laugh or cry, and drink some coffee after your child is dropped off for their first day. Hosted by the PTA.
  • August 28th – First Day of School – Kindergarten will start with the bell (8:25) and dismiss early (12:40). Please send your Kindergartener with a bag lunch or plan to order a bagged lunch as they will eat in the classroom to keep things less stressful. K only busing available * Note: Grades 1-5 will dismiss at standard times.
  • August 29th – Thursday is early out – Kindergarten will start with the bell (8:25) and dismiss early (12:40). Please send your Kindergartener with a bag lunch or plan to order a bagged lunch as they will eat in the classroom to keep things less stressful. K only busing available * Note: Grades 1-5 will dismiss at Early Out times.
  • August 30th – Friday! – Kindergarten will start with the bell (8:25) and dismiss early (12:40). Please send your Kindergartener with a bag lunch or plan to order a bagged lunch as they will eat in the classroom to keep things less stressful. K only busing available * Note: Grades 1-5 will dismiss at standard times.
  • Find our general Calendar page at https://rattlesnakepta.org/calendar/ 
  • * See Bus Schedule First Week Note below *


  • Standard schedule and stops can be found at http://www.infofinderi.com/ifi/?cid=MCPS4CVNG54XW
  • Kindergartners often get very excited to ride the bus for the first few weeks. Please remind them to wear their “imaginary seat belt” and stay seated for the whole ride just like in a regular car or like for the city bus. This helps keep them safe, and keeps the bus drivers focused on the road.
  • * Bus Schedule First Week Note * – For the first three days of the first week in 2019 for kindergarten only, the half-day dismissal special kindergarten buses take longer and will bus to more than one route. This extended route can prove stressful to kids that are not very excited about being on the bus. If you think your kid might be upset by this, the PTA suggests sending them on the morning buses all week (those are the consistent and regular route), picking up your child at the school for just the half days (August 28, 29, and 30), and then having them ride the bus the following week in the afternoons. This allows them to get used to the normal bus routes while skipping the possible stress of those three first days of extended bus routes.


  • Please don’t bring your child to visit the school to peek through the windows prior to August 27th, when classrooms will be fully set up and your child will be able to experience their new classroom in person. Kindergarten aged kids cannot really imagine how a blank summer cleaned-up room seen through a window will transform into a happy and inviting classroom, so they might be dismayed to see all the cardboard boxes and upside-down chairs.
  • It is best to try to stick to talking about drop off and pick up only the night before- don’t build it up too big or with too many fine details.
  • Do your best to get your child to bed at a consistent time for at least a few nights before school starts. Sleep is so important at this age!
  • If you child will be riding the bus, please review our “Bus Schedule First Week Note” in the paragraph above, so you can make a good choice for your child’s needs.
  • See the Supply List page for reference.
  • Worried you are forgetting something? Try our Back to School short list of reminders.


  • Walk, bike, or bus is best!
  • Kindergartners getting off the bus in the morning will be assisted with finding their classroom meeting spot (marked with a traffic cone and sign) and will meet their teacher outside the school each morning.
  • See https://rattlesnakepta.org/school-map/ for the map that details car dropoff guidelines
  • Kindergartners must have an authorized adult to pick up – they will not be released alone from the school nor off the bus. Kindergartners with no authorized adult at the bus stop at afternoon dismissal will be bussed back to the school to ensure their safety. Please be on time to meet the bus!


  • The basic daily schedule is here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/schedule/
  • The K day includes rest time in Fall for all classrooms. Rest time in Winter and Spring is figured out per classroom, as needed by class dynamics. Typically your teacher will permit a small blanket and a small soft toy, but this may vary depending on the classroom needs.
  • Most classrooms have a space for each child to have a set of spare clothing in case of accidents. It is normal for young children to accidentally pee their pants on occasion. If you are concerned about your child’s needs, please speak to your teacher or the school nurse as soon as possible so they can help.
  • Kindergarten has three recesses per day: First Recess, Pre-Lunch Recess, and Second Recess.
  • Recess is held outdoors in nearly all weather. It is only held indoors in very specific hazardous weather conditions. Learn more here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/snow-and-weather-policies/


  • All kindergarten students’ families will be able to indicate how they are dismissed each day in a form from their teacher, to ensure they safely and correctly follow their schedule (i.e. if your child will do Campfire Monday – Thursday, and home on the bus on Fridays, you will indicate that in writing).
  • Changes to your child’s routine must always be communicated prior to 2:30pm (1:30 on Thursdays).
  • Learn about afterschool programs here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/after-school-programs/


  • Breakfast is optional before school and is from 8am to the 8:25am bell.
  • Lunchtime is a 25 minute period, with the exact time dependent on schedule and grade. Hot and cold purchase options are available, or students can bring their own lunch. There is a nut-free table available for students with a nut allergy.
  • Lunch money is put onto an account and each student is assigned a number. Our Menu page includes information on how to add money to your account, as well as the current menu and a few back menus for examples: https://rattlesnakepta.org/menus/


  • Most classrooms have food-free celebrations and birthdays – learn more about this approach at the MCPS page Smart Snack initiative 
  • Some K classrooms have group snacks, others do not, your teacher will communicate these expectations in the fall.
  • There is a nut-free table available in the cafeteria for students with a nut allergy.
  • Nut-free or food free classrooms are designated as needed, per classroom.
  • If your child has allergies and you have already submitted a completed medical form, you should have already heard from our assigned nurse. If you have not heard from her, please call or email Lisa Flanagan to discuss your child’s needs and ensure the forms were received: ltflanagan@mcps.k12.mt.us, (406) 728-2400 ext. 4511, or (406) 239-9065


  • Highly detailed curriculum descriptions are available at http://www.mcpsmt.org/Page/1827
  • Kindergarteners develop important skills in their first year of school such as listening to and following directions, being flexible, and adapting to change. Simple activities like going new places over the summer (for instance, trying a different playground), playing a new board game with unfamiliar rules, or having playdates with a variety of friends and neighbors can help ease the transition into school.
  • Kindergarten classrooms at Rattlesnake Elementary begin the year reviewing single letters and their sounds, then they progress to two letter combinations (like “sh” and “st”), then learn to sound out short words and syllables, and finally will work on sight reading short words (such as “the” and “dog”). By the end of kindergarten, some students will have begun to read in full sentences or even books, and some will not- and that’s OK. Please speak directly with your teacher if you have concerns about reading expectations or classroom experiences.


  • Rattlesnake Elementary follows the guidance of the Missoula County Public School district for all health and safety issues. Please review these guidelines each year to ensure you understand the basics for when a child must be kept at home, or not! Find our quick reference here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/sickness-and-lice/


  • For kindergarten, general classroom volunteering typically starts in late October. This helps the classrooms settle into their routines, prior to adding volunteers into the mix.
  • If you want to volunteer your particular knowledge for a self-led lesson or classroom experience, talk to your teacher about how to best schedule and plan. 
  • In class volunteers (called a Supervised Volunteer) must sign a district volunteer form (see http://www.mcpsmt.org/Page/9033). Volunteers that would be working with students unsupervised are also required to sign more forms plus get a background check- this is less common and isn’t the kind of volunteering that you’d be likely to do with a kindergarten classroom.


  • There is no standardized testing done in kindergarten at Rattlesnake Elementary. In general, district wide Standardized testing within MCPS starts in 3rd grade.
  • Teachers use a variety of assessments to guide instruction, some of which are standardized in format (i.e. a consistent assessment is applied to all students). Please note these are not standardized tests, but rather they are evaluation tools to help better understand student and classroom progress.


  • School District:
    • Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS) website: https://www.mcpsmt.org/
    • MCPS App: Search in App Store or Google Play Store for “Missoula County Public School” and you should find it!
    • Administration Building: 215 South Sixth Street West, Missoula, MT 59801, 406-728-2400
    • Emergency notifications are robo-called to parent or guardian phone numbers from the district on an as-needed basis.
  • Rattlesnake School:
  • Your child’s teacher:
    • During the school year, teachers can be reached via email or phone (find these on Rattlesnake School Staff Listings, https://www.mcpsmt.org/domain/2287) and will send a weekly newsletter via their school email.
    • You will get handouts and other paper format notes in your child’s “boomerang” (or “boom”) folder. The boomerang folder gets its name because it goes back and forth from school each day with your child.
  • Rattlesnake School PTA:
    • PTA website: you are on the PTA website right now! https://rattlesnakepta.org/
    • PTA facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RattlesnakePTA/
    • PTA specific email list: You MUST sign up separately for PTA emails to receive them! Sign up at any PTA event, or use the Contact Us form and simply write “please add me to the PTA email list” in your note. Thanks!
    • PTA via US Postal Service: Rattlesnake PTA, P.O. Box 7211, Missoula MT 59807


Rattlesnake Spirit Wear!

Show your school spirit and order your Rattlesnake Elementary gear online at https://rattlesnakespiritwear18.itemorder.com/  from now until May 21!

Hats, mugs, shirts, hoodies and more are all available with the super-fun snake logo. 5% of each sale go to our PTA fund for classroom and school enrichments.

The sale ends May 21 so that the orders can be ready before the end of school. All orders will ship to school for easy pick up (and no shipping costs)!


Rattlesnake Parent Boundary Study Meeting Summary

Rattlesnake Parent Boundary Study Meeting
5:30pm-6:30pm 2/20/2019
PTA representative notes (taken by Leigh G, PTA Co-President)

Attendance: 32 parents (best estimate from a quick count), 5 teachers, Principal Wright
Presentation and Q&A leader: Hatton Littman, MCPS Communications Director

The meeting was a full hour long, plus an additional 30 minutes of one-on-one questions, and therefore full minutes were not feasible. Below is a summary of some of the more important facts that were presented, the dominant themes, and particularly relevant questions, according to our abilities and best judgement.

Background as discussed and presented:

The demographic data already available shows that the population of the district will keep growing at least through 2023, at which time it may level out. It is currently thought that the district is likely to add 1000 elementary kids in the 10 year period from 2013-2023. The new demographic study to be released next week (2/25+/2019) should have more accurate and in depth information.

There are several reasons that Rattlesnake didn’t add lots more classrooms during the renovation from the 2015 bond, but the most simple explanation is that the best school capacity from the student, teacher, and district perspective is just under 500 students. This takes into account things like state accreditation standards, state based limits on individual classroom sizes, and the communities’ stated values in the 2013-2015 process to maintain friendly neighborhood schools, not mega schools.

How to get involved (see also our list on https://rattlesnakepta.org/2019/02/19/boundary-study-meeting-and-parent-representative-update/ ):

The meeting schedule is available on the district site (https://www.mcpsmt.org/elementaryschoolboundarystudy specifically page  https://www.mcpsmt.org/Page/13831) and is also posted on the PTA update from our school’s parent rep, here: https://rattlesnakepta.org/2019/02/19/boundary-study-meeting-and-parent-representative-update/ towards the bottom. The next Open House will be Monday, March 4; 6-8 pm at Russell School.

Anyone can comment on the Social Map, which is available here: https://www.mcpsmt.org/Page/13835 and you can comment more than once if you’d like. The “pins” are put where you want them- they don’t automatically show up on your house or anything. Anyone can see the comments, but only the district employees can see the emails that are entered as part of the commenting process.

Reach out to principal Pam Wright (pcwright@mcpsmt.org) and/or our parent representative (kristie.scheel@gmail.com) if you’d prefer to comment that way.

Next steps in the process, in general:

The new demographic data should be released next week (2/25+/2019) and will be put onto the district’s website along with all the other documents.

The next Advisory Committee meeting is 2/28/2019 and our representative Kristie Scheel will be there, as well as our librarian Robyn Nygren (she is also on the committee). At the end of the Advisory Committee meeting there is an opportunity for public comment, if desired, and anyone can attend as an observer and then use that opportunity to make their voice heard.

The next Open House will be Monday, March 4; 6-8 pm at Russell School. You do NOT need to attend for the full two hours, you can just come and look at the posters and talk to people on your own time frame.

After these three things are completed, the various options for the boundaries, and how those boundaries will be rolled out, will be considered by the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee will also dive into questions like how long currently enrolled kids will be grandfathered into their current schools. For a short list of how these decisions will be formed and framed, see the information from our school’s rep Kristie https://rattlesnakepta.org/2019/02/19/boundary-study-meeting-and-parent-representative-update/. For the full Framework as written by the district, find that information here: https://www.mcpsmt.org/cms/lib/MT01001940/Centricity/Domain/3808/Framework%20for%20Selecting%20Boundaries.pdf

Towards the end of the process, likely in early to mid April, the Advisory Committee will whittle down all the options and ideas to likely three choices, which they will then work through to produce a final recommendation. They will then present the final recommendation to the elected School Board of Trustees. To learn about the Trustees, please visit: https://www.mcpsmt.org/domain/34

Comments and Questions by Parents and Teachers at the meeting:

There was a question about what grades at Rattlesnake had the most leveling (which is when later enrolling kids have to go to a different school due to high numbers). Hatton and Pam answered that right now, at Rattlesnake, that is grades 1, 3, and 4. Hatton explained that 1st grade is often a pinch point for schools due to kids that go to private kindergartens, and families moving to new homes while the kids are younger. As a whole, Rattlesnake is one of 4 elementary schools at 95% capacity.

Several parents expressed serious concerns along the theme that the middle school boundaries are not being studied and/or altered simultaneously. The conversation around this included the acknowledgement that it would be a lot more difficult to do these studies all at once because of the tremendous complexity, and that the staff time would be immense if they were undertaken simultaneously.  

The time scale of this process was a concern in several ways. One parent expressed frustration that some documents said the changes could theoretically begin as soon as Fall 2019, but other documents and verbal statements were not as clear and no set timeframe is being discussed right now. There was also concern that the process was too rushed- with the three advisory committee and open houses in three months. At the same time, it was mentioned that as each year goes by, more kids end up attending non-neighborhood schools due to capacity issues (“leveling”), and so keeping the process moving in order to help alleviate that is important.

There was some frustration and confusion regarding one of the older (2013) walk-to-school maps that has been used as a reference in this process (specifically, this map:  https://www.mcpsmt.org/cms/lib/MT01001940/Centricity/Domain/1378/ES%20Walking%20and%20BikingMap.pdf ) as the circles appear to exclude the Lower Rattlesnake. Parents were unhappy with the visual implications of the map. This seemed to be mostly confusion on the actual professional intent of the map (1 mile is the practical limit for walking to school as depicted on that map) vs what the other impressions of the map may be (for instance: that the circles are the priority areas, or represent actual neighborhoods, or guaranteed attendance, etc). Someone joked that due to the shape of the Rattlesnake Valley, we deserved an oval, not a circle. Jokes aside, this map was considered visually misleading and frustrating by several parents, as this map seemed to confirm the feeling that some parts of the Rattlesnake School attendance area, especially in the Lower Rattlesnake, were being left out of the big picture of the neighborhood.

East Missoula was a big topic of discussion. The question of when and how Mount Jumbo will return to use as an elementary school does not have an answer nor estimate at this time. The demographic study to be released 2/25+/2019 may shed some light on this topic, or may not, it is impossible to say without the study in hand.

The commute and relative isolation of East Missoula was discussed, especially as it relates to buses driving around the base of Mt Jumbo. At least seven people from East Missoula were in attendance (exact count unknown). The fact that the East Missoula neighborhood has been busing kids for more than 20 minutes since 2005- which is one of the values sets that this study seeks to reduce- was mentioned as important to remember.

The need to improve outreach to East Missoula families was brought up by more than one person. Suggestions included more flyers in Boom folders, posting flyers in community hotspots (the River of Life coffee shop, the Oles, etc), using the leaderboard that the fire department manages, giving a quick update at neighborhood council meetings, and other community based approaches.

The Mount Jumbo facility itself was discussed. Improvements to the front entry security will be needed, but the facility and grounds in general is in good serviceable condition. Once Mount Jumbo is determined to be a priority, these final renovations would be brought into discussion and budgeting by the district.

Prescott School was mentioned briefly in the context that the district will definitely not be reopening that school as a school facility. The renovation and rehabilitation needs of that historic structure are beyond the scope of what the district will engage in. It is also well known by the general community that Missoula International School intends to move to their future facility (roughly, near Osprey Stadium), out of Prescott School, in the next few years.

The various scenarios that parents have been independently discussing via private texts and emails were listed and mentioned- including the ideas of a K-2 3-5 split for Rattlesnake and Jumbo, adjusting the boundary somewhere into the Lower Rattlesnake to attend at Lowell, and others. These scenarios have not been discussed by the Advisory Committee or Administration at this point. Hatton reminded the group that in general, all ideas are being opened up as part of the information gathering process, which means it is theoretically possible these ideas and scenarios could be considered among all the options. After all options are determined and discussed, the Advisory Group will apply the values and framework to evaluate them each. This will take place in the next two months (late Feb, all of March, early April). To remind yourself of the framework, visit:  https://www.mcpsmt.org/cms/lib/MT01001940/Centricity/Domain/3808/Framework%20for%20Selecting%20Boundaries.pdf

“Grandfathering” of kids into schools was discussed on multiple occasions. There was discussion on how, essentially, the more you grandfather in kids, the slower the transition to new borders and more equal attendance will be. The fact that the Advisory Council has a framework with which to make decisions on this was mentioned.

Whether or not future Mount Jumbo district residents will be given the same grandfathering options to Rattlesnake was a stated concern as submitted to the PTA email- Hatton indicated that the scenario of opening Mount Jumbo and creating a new attendance boundary between Rattlesnake and East Missoula neighborhoods would be held to the same grandfathering standards as all other boundary decisions, and not a special case or different process.

For more information, see the PTA’s prior post on this subject: https://rattlesnakepta.org/2019/02/19/boundary-study-meeting-and-parent-representative-update/  or the official district clearinghouse for this study at https://www.mcpsmt.org/elementaryschoolboundarystudy 

Boundary Study Meeting and Parent Representative Update

NOTE: This page contains two important items on the MCPS Boundary Study- Upcoming Meeting Information and an overall Parent Representative Update. Please read BOTH SECTIONS so that you’ve got all the information you need! 

Upcoming Meeting Information

The Missoula County Public Schools elementary boundary study is underway, and all parents in the district are encouraged to read the available information online and participate in the process. Rattlesnake’s elementary school boundary is somewhat unique in that the two big parts (Rattlesnake Valley and East Missoula) are both bounded by mountains and highways. To facilitate an open and transparent discussion of how this boundary study will be structured, how parents can participate, and what is currently being discussed, everyone is invited to attend the Rattlesnake School Parent Meeting Wednesday, February 20, 2019, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in our library.

 If you are unable to attend the Wednesday meeting, please note:

MCPS Elementary School Boundary Study Update

This update authored by Kristie Scheel, Rattlesnake School parent representative on February 15, 2019


The goal of the Elementary Attendance Boundary Study is to balance building utilization and reduce overcrowding in Missoula County Public Schools (MCPS). An advisory committee made up of parent representatives and MCPS staff was created to generate ideas and recommendations for achieving the study objective. The advisory committee will also receive guidance from professionals in the planning community. The framework for making the recommendations will be based on goals, guiding principles, and boundary criteria.

The Advisory Committee will listen to all public comment and look at data to vet out possible solutions, and then present some options to the community for feedback. This spring, the Advisory Committee will be making a recommendation to the MCPS Board of Trustees on any required adjustments to elementary school attendance boundaries.

Below are Important Dates, Informational Updates, and How to Get Involved.

Important Dates

  • Rattlesnake School Parent Meeting: Wednesday, February 20; 5:30-6:30 pm, Rattlesnake School Library
  • Advisory Committee Meeting #2: Thursday, February 28; 6-8 pm, MCPS Business Building Boardroom-915 South Ave.
  • Community Open House #2: Monday, March 4; 6-8 pm, Russell School.
  • Advisory Committee Meeting #3: Thursday, March 14; 6-8 pm, MCPS Business Building Boardroom- 915 South Ave.
  • Community Open House #3: Thursday, March 21; 6-8 pm, Location TBD (a flyer will be sent out)
  • Advisory Committee Meeting #4: Thursday, April 4; 6-8 pm, MCPS Business Building Boardroom-915 South Ave.

Informational Updates: what’s happening now?

The first Advisory Council meeting was held on January 30th, 2019. The purpose of this first meeting was to review current enrollment data and agree upon boundary selection criteria. Additional criteria discussed for boundary changes include:

  1. Avoid bussing that takes a student more than 20 minutes one way
  2. Transportation goals/values around bussing logistics and costs
  3. Equity in schools in terms of socioeconomics, student achievement/performance, special programs without excessive bussing or disruption to neighborhood cohesion

In addition, considerations will be given for selection criteria intended to reduce short-term negative effects of boundary changes for special cases that may occur over the next ten years including:

  1. Treatment of grandfathering in current students (and for how long)
  2. Treatment of siblings who haven’t entered school yet (and for how long)
  3. Criteria for access to special programs with a goal of equality of access

It is important to note that specific recommendations have not yet been made. The Committee is currently waiting for more data to come in regarding demographics, population projections, and planned growth + development throughout the district. Any ideas swirling around at this time are not concrete considerations on the table. No official recommendations will be made until the Committee is able to review community feedback and the new data. The public will then have opportunities to comment on the recommendations prior to sending to the Board for review this spring. The elected MCPS school board – not the advisory committee itself- will be responsible for reviewing the findings and making the final decisions.

How to Get Involved: Be informed. Stay involved. Share your thoughts!

Rattlesnake parents are encouraged to:



Upcoming Music & Band Performances

There are many upcoming performances by our amazing children and it is tough to keep track of them all! Here’s a “cheat sheet” for your convenience — we’ll add to this as we get more information and update times as needed:

February 13, 2019 | 10:30am (KE, KL, 1D, 1P) & 1:00pm (KT, KR, 1W, 1S)

Kindergarten & 1st – Kindness Concert – Families Invited

February 20, 2019 | 2:30pm

5th Grade – Martin Luther King Concert – Families Invited

March 12, 2019 | 7:00pm

5th grade band students from Paxson, Lewis & Clark, and Rattlesnake Elementary perform at Washington Middle School (New Gym) with the Washington Middle School  Jazz Ensemble- Families Invited

March 19, 2019 | 10:30am (2J, 2D, 3L, 3K) & 12:30pm (2H, 2S, 3M, 3K)

2nd & 3rd Grades – “The Day the Crayons Came Home” Performance – Families Invited

May 10, 2019 | Time TBD

Rattlesnake Elementary Band & Orchestra – 5th Grade Solo Day for band and orchestra at Missoula Alliance Church – Families Invited

May 30, 2019 | 10:30am

Rattlesnake Elementary Band Concert at Rattlesnake Elementary – Families Invited

June 5, 2019 | 11:30am

4th Grade – Musical Theme TBD – Families Invited

Winter 2018

December 19, 2018 | 3:00pm 

5th Grade – Winter Performance of Band and Orchestra – Families Invited

December 21, 2018

All Grades – Winter Sing-a-long – Students & Staff Only**

**the Winter Sing-a-long is for students and staff only! Please respect this request, as the gym cannot safely accommodate all grades, families, and staff at once. Thanks for your understanding.**