Montana State Legislature

Montana School for the Deaf & Blind

The Montana School for the Deaf and Blind (MSDB), located in Great Falls, is part of Montana’s public education system, and under the policy and governance of the State Board of Public Education.

The school promotes and provides free, appropriate, and comprehensive educational opportunities statewide, for children ages birth through twenty-one who are either deaf, hard of hearing, blind, low vision, or deaf-blind. In accordance with 20-8-101 through 121, MCA the legislatively assigned duties are:

  • Serve as a consultative resource for parents of, and for public schools enrolling, hearing impaired or visually impaired children
  • Establish a system for tracking these children from the time of impairment through the child’s exit from intervention or educational services
  • Furnish and provide an education for hearing and visually impaired children that is commensurate with the education provided to non-handicapped children in the public schools
  • Assist in locating suitable employment for hearing or visually impaired persons in attendance at the school in consultation with county, state and federal agencies o Provide vocational training
  • Provide transportation expense for residential students to and from the students home

The school provides services through four programs. Their functions are described below.

  • Program 01 Administration - provides purchasing, accounting, personnel functions, and management of the business affairs for the school.
  • Program 02 General Services - is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the school’s campus.
  • Program 03 Student Services – provides residential care for children living at the school including:
    • Living quarters
    • Food services
    • Around the clock supervision
    • Health services
    • Recreational opportunities 
    • Transportation services – monthly travel between home and school
  • Program 04 Education Program - provides a free and appropriate public education for children who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired or deafblind. There are two functional areas within the education program.
    • The education program at the Great Falls Campus:
      • Provides educators and paraprofessionals with specialized training in the education of deaf/hard of hearing and blind/visually impaired children
      • Provides specialized curriculum, instruction, equipment, and learning environment for students taking classes on the Great Falls campus
      • Provides extracurricular activities comparable to the mainstream K-12 education system
      • Partners with Great Falls Public Schools to provide mainstreaming options
    • The outreach services is a statewide program that serves children who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired, or deafblind and who remain in their local school districts by:
      • Providing audio-logical and educational assessments
      • Providing consultation and technical assistance to local school districts
      • Providing home-based family training for infants and toddlers
      • Lending of specialized education equipment to school districts throughout the state
      • Arranging family learning weekends for families and siblings
      • Conducting summer skills camps for students who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, visually impaired or deafblind

Below is an organizational chart of the branch, including full-time employee (FTE) numbers and the HB2 base general fund appropriations and the total of all funds.

This report includes a series of charts that compare expenditure growth to the growth in the economy and growth in inflation adjusted for population. Montana statute, 17-8-106, MCA, recommends using growth in personal income for comparison purposes. Personal income is a measure for growth in the economy. Comparing growth allows financial planners to consider past and future demands in services or changes in revenues.

In general, growth of all funds expenditures for the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind (MSDB) parallels the growth in population and inflation, with occasional adjustments in personal services as described below:

  1. In FY 2006, the legislature eliminated vacancy savings for the MSDB and approved salary increases for teachers and professional staff.
  2. In FY 2008, MSDB expenditures increased due to market adjustments to salaries for licensed professional staff and interpreters, with the purpose of assisting the school in recruiting and retaining these highly qualified staff.
  3. In FY 2014, expenditures increased to bring the compensation for educators and support staff to parity with the local school districts.

General Fund

The MSDB is funded primarily with general fund. Over the last 20 years, the MSDB’s budget has grown primarily due to increases in personal services in order to recruit qualified professional staff and maintain competitive salaries for existing positions. There have also been increases in the MSDB budget for equipment and technology costs such as the replacement of computers. The variability in the expenditures is primarily due to operating expenses.

State Special Revenue

State special revenue for the MSDB is primarily from school trust interest and income. The growth of state special revenue expenditures has not kept up with the growth of population and inflation. However, state special revenue supports a very minimal portion of the MSDB’s functions.


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Audit Report

Financial Compliance Audit - Montana School for the Deaf and Blind - May 2019



HB 2

HB 13 and fiscal note and amendments

HB 95  Revise ethics laws related to confidentiality 

HB 135  Provide for interim committee review of agency rules prior to adoption

HB 159, Revise Governor’s power to spend certain unanticipated federal funds

SB 36  Code Commissioner bill

SB 57, Revising laws related to reports to the legislature

SB 110, Revise state employee and U-System health plan laws for temp state share holiday

Agency profile information is provided by the Legislative Fiscal Division.

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