The Impressive Contributions of Volunteer Elected Trustees
The founding of Montana’s public schools pre-dates Montana’s statehood by 25 years. The creation of a system of public schools was one of the first actions taken by the First Montana Territorial Legislative Assembly in 1864. Since the first public school opened in Virginia City in 1865, Montana’s public schools have been preparing Montana children for a future of success over the last 150 years, governed by community-elected trustees all along the way.
Elected trustees in Montana volunteer nearly 750,000 hours each year in pursuit of increased student achievement, taking on complex and sometimes controversial challenges with no compensation whatsoever. The combined annual volunteer service of our members would take an individual 86 continuous years, working 24 hours per day, to match. When we say that our members provide a lifetime of service each year, we mean that literally. Our members' annual contributions are equivalent to 360 FTE positions provided free of charge each year, providing taxpayers over $20 million in savings each year compared to what those positions would cost if filled by employees.
Our members oversee the employment of over 25,000 public employees who educate, support, transport, supervise, feed and protect the safety of over 155,000 children, in virtually every community in the state, every day of the week throughout the school year. Our boards govern for excellence and efficiency in equal measures and the results of their efforts speak for themselves. Montana’s public schools provide performance that compares favorably by any measure, nationally or even internationally and our members deliver these results for below-average costs when compared to other states in our Nation. Our members ensure preservation and fulfillment of important constitutional guarantees afforded to Montana's citizens.