This is National School Choice Week, and there are only two charter schools in Montana, one in Bozeman and the other a partnership between the communities of Libby and Troy.

Superintendent of Bozeman Public Schools, Dr. Robert Watson described the unique charter school that exists within the structure of Bozeman High School.

“One of the requirements in Montana is that the school must be approved by the local school board, and be managed by the local school district,” Watson began. “The charter school staff have to be certified teachers in the state of Montana. We applied to the Montana Board of Education in 2016 and our charter serves students in grades 9-12. In our system, students are working towards proficiency on the curriculum, and once they can demonstrate proficiency, then they move on to the next course.”

Watson explained how the Bozeman Charter School was able to get past the overall opposition by the combined Montana teachers union.

“Because all our charter school teachers are certified by the state and the charter was approved by our locally elected school board, we had support not only from our local teachers union, but also from the state teachers union for our model.”

Hatton Littman, Communications Director for Missoula County Public Schools said Willard Alternative High School comes closest to the charter school model, but exists in its own building.

The chief objection to charter schools from the teachers union is that no public dollars be diverted from publicly funded schools.