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Montana Regional Service Areas (RSA)

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Montana Comprehensive System of Personnel Development

Montana CSPD is a unified personnel development system that ensures quality educational programs and services for all children and youth.

Comprehensive System of Personnel Development

The CSPD uses a process which includes preservice, inservice and technical assistance for parents, general education staff, administrators and other service providers with the end result being better programs and services for all children and youth.

This is accomplished by collaborating with all stakeholders, disseminating best practices, and the evaluation of CSPD activities.

Montana CSPD is organized through a statewide council and five regional councils.

The mission for the CSPD will be to value and promote services which:

Montana CSPD
  • are proactive and flexible in meeting the needs of children and youth;
  • ensure success for all by providing a safe and healthy environment that builds a sense of belonging and value for self and others;
  • evaluate and disseminate best practices and achievements through ongoing high-quality professional development;
  • encourage sensitivity to individual differences with recognition of cultural and ethnic diversity;
  • are unified and integrated through a partnership of families, schools, agencies and communities;
  • support recruitment and retention of high-quality educational personnel;
  • are seen as a series of interdependent stages of continuous growth for personnel; and
  • are designed to meet individual needs delivered through personalized, accessible and practical formats.

Critical Components

Preservice: Pre service is the preparation of certified and non-certified staff for employment as administrators and service providers for students with disabilities. Institutions of higher education are given the responsibility to prepare individuals with adequate skills that lead to quality services. CSPD will collaborate with higher education in strengthening educational training programs to help ensure quality staff. CSPD should be involved with certification issues and assuring collaboration between the various institutions of higher learning.

Needs Assessment: The state CSPD Council conducts an annual in service needs assessment using a representative sample of certified staff, non-certified staff, and parents. The goal is to identify training needs, develop a system to evaluate CSPD components, activities, and projects, and ensure that each CSPD component includes collaboration. The results of the needs assessment is the catalyst for determining in service training and technical assistance. The CSPD council develops the needs assessment and disseminates the results to school districts and regional CSPD councils.

Inservice: The state and regional CSPD Council and school districts provide relevant training for school staff and parents that improves skills in serving students with disabilities. In service is usually based upon data received from annual needs assessment and requirements that arise from the IEP process. The CSPD Council helps support and organize relevant in service training.

Technical Assistance: The state CSPD Council has developed trainers and technical assistance providers for a wide variety of critical special education issues including transition, IEP development, working with students with behavioral difficulties, and inclusion. The end result will be quality education and services for students with disabilities. The CSPD Council is sensitive to the changing technical assistance needs of school districts and regional areas.

Collaboration: Collaboration involves sharing resources and information, setting common goals, and working together. Collaboration is the glue that holds the other CSPD Components together. A main objective of CSPD is to offer opportunities for members of the educational community and parents to work together for a common cause, namely improving services to students with disabilities. The CSPD Council is made up of a broad representative of stakeholders, including parents. Council meetings and activities offer the opportunity for CSPD stakeholders to communicate and collaborate with each other.

Dissemination: CSPD involves the dissemination of research validated educational and behavioral practices for service providers of students with disabilities. Promising practices are shared with educators and parents throughout the state. The CSPD Council offers opportunities for individuals and organizations to discuss and disseminate materials at quarterly council meetings.

Evaluation: All CSPD activities should be evaluated regarding their outcome and impact to programs for students with disabilities. Evaluation helps determine if CSPD activities are making a real difference. Each section of the CSPD strategic plan should have an evaluation component. Evaluation results should be used as part of the decision making process.

Recruitment/Retention: There are frequent shortages of qualified special education personnel, especially in rural areas. Planning and collaboration should occur at the state, regional and school district level to ensure adequate staff to serve the needs of students with disabilities. Strategies need to be implemented that promote retaining qualified staff members.

Regional Councils

The state CSPD Council has expanded to include the development of regional CSPD Councils. For information on regional training opportunities or CSPD activities, contact the following:

CSPD Coordinator/SPDG Director
Susan Bailey-Anderson
Office of Public Instruction
Box 202501
Helena, MT 59620-2501

Instructional Coordinator, SPDG
Annette Young
Office of Public Instruction

School Mental Health Coordinator
Erin Butts
Office of Public Instruction


State Council

State Council Chair
Denielle M. Miller
Region IV CSPD Coordinator
3929 Baxter Lane
Bozeman, MT 59718

State Council Secretary
Debra Miller
1500 University Dr.
Billings, MT 59101
Past State Council Chair
Susan Johnson
Principal, Butte Public Schools
3000 Continental Drive
Butte, MT 59701
State Council Chair - Elect

See also CSPD Regions

Montana CSPD Regions

Montana CSPD Regions Map
Montana CSPD Region III Montana CSPD Region I Montana CSPD Region II Montana CSPD Region IV Montana CSPD Region V

Region I

Montana CSPD Region I

Lead Coordinator
Sheryl Burnham
PO Box 201
Saco, MT 59261
406-527-3496 (h)
406-527-7999 (c)

Dena Senner
431 Country Road 518
Bloomfield, MT 59315
406-583-7769 (h)
406-480-1591 (c)

Brenda Mast
709 N. Kendrick
Glendive, MT 59330
406.377.5037 (h)
Debra Linn.
30 Highway 200 S
Glendive, MT 59330

Region II

Montana CSPD Region II icon
Aileen Couch
Box 7791
Havre, MT 59501

Kris Magruder
Big Sky Special Needs Coop
Chair - Elect
Jen Dahlke
1174 McKinley
Havre, MT 59501

Region III

Montana CSPD Region III
Debra Miller
MT Center on Disabilities
1500 University St
Billings, MT 59101
Monica Pugh
Stillwater Sweet Grass County Coop
Box 669
Columbus, MT 59019
Marsha Sampson
MT Center on Disabilities
1500 University St
Billings, MT 59101

Region IV

Denielle M. Miller
Region IV CSPD Coordinator
3929 Baxter Lane
Bozeman, MT 59718
Lisa Hufnagel
Prickly Pear Coop
2525 Lake Helena Dr.
East Helena, MT 59635
Laurie Salo
Special Education Director
PO Box 166
Belgrade, MT  59714

Region V

Montana CSPD Region V
Nancy Terwilliger-Grube
WMCSPD Program Coordinator
2648 Fleet St.
Missoula, MT 59808
Sandy Elmore
Chris Kuschel
Missoula Area Curric Consortium Director
Missoula, MT

Comprehensive Service of Personnel Development CSPD Priorities

  1. Enhancing CSPD/State Policies/Systems
    • Broaden stakeholder representation to move toward professional development councils
    • Market CSPD through brochure and web site to general educators and administrators
    • Obtain data from OPI on number of and types of corrective actions and types of technical assistance requested by region
    • Update and disseminate data-base of technical assistance/in service providers
  2. Evaluation and Dissemination of Findings
    • Assess, review and summarize existing data
  3. Addressing Personnel Shortages
    • Develop and implement a Mentoring Task Force
    • Develop and implement a Task force for Recruitment and Retention of qualified staff
  4. Building Pre service System Capacity
    • Resurrect the Higher Education Consortium
  5. Enhancing Existing Educational Systems
    • Develop Programs for Excellence Incentive Grants
    • Provide professional development options with a focus on Strategies for general educators to respond to the needs of all students
    • Instructional strategies
    • Assessment and grading
    • Aligning with state standards
    • Strategies to address post secondary transition with an emphasis on culturally sensitive transition plans that address Native American populations

CSPD Resources

Paravison Logo

About OPI Paraprofessional Consortium

The Paraprofessional Consortium is comprised of Montana paraprofessionals, parents, teachers, and administrators in general and special education.

Vision: Promote and support a new era for Paras

Mission: "To enable paraprofessionals and personnel with whom they work to perceive their work with students as essential and valuable, reinforce an attitude of paraprofessional belongingness in the school community, and develop a sense of competence in providing the highest quality of service for students they assist."

People can subscribe to the Paraprofessional listserv here:

Paraprofessional Document for recognizing Paraprofessionals, High Quality Status in your district

Paraprofessional Document Guidance

Title I Paraprofessional non-Regulatory Guidance
US Department of Education Guidance for Paraprofessionals-March 2004

Guidelines to Meet Requirements for Highly Qualified Paraprofessionals

Assessment Information
Side-by-side comparison of assessments that are available

Job Description
Sample job description aligned with Paraprofessional Standards

Interview Questions
Link to obtain sample interview questions for paraprofessional. Complete set of questions is available to school administrators by request to Nancy

Para Educator Evaluation
Sample evaluation tool aligned with Montana Paraprofessional Standards

The OPI Resource Guide for Administrators, Educators and Para Educators
Resource guide containing a wealth of information on a wide range of topics of interest to para educators as well as those administrators and educators who work with para educators

Orientation for Paraeducators This page will provide resources for paraeducators, administrators, and teachers who work with paraeducators. Videos, links as well as assignments and resources are provided to support the paraprofessional in their work.

Regional CSPD Opportunities: links to various trainings available through regional CSPD councils

  • On the Teacher Learning Hub
    • Orientation to Special Education
      • February 15-March 11
      • April 6-May 6
      • June 15-July 15
    • Autism Academy - March 20 thru April 26
  • MEA-MFT- PASS Training (Para educators Achieving Standards Successfully) MEA-MFT PASS is an intensive four-day course, designed to help Montana paraprofessionals meet the “high quality paraprofessional” definition contained in the No Child Left Behind Act.
  • Para Academy Courses Trainers are available through Regional CSPD to offer a variety of trainings designed specifically for Paraprofessionals. Contact CSPD Coordinators in your region for more information or to schedule a training. See also Para Academy Descriptions for specific content of academies.

Awards – Each CSPD region offers awards for persons from their region

  • Paraeducator of the Year
  • Paraeducator Team of the Year Award
  • Yes I Can Award for student with disabilities
  • Leadership Award

CSPD Regions

Para educator Recognition Week - The first week of February is designated as Para educator Recognition week in Montana. For more information see:

National Resource Center for Paraprofessionals

Paraeducator Resources and Websites rev Nov 2012
A compilation of resources by Kent Gerlach, from Pacific Lutheran University of Resources for Paras and Websites on topics related to Para educators.