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Three Forks School District Offering Early Learning Program

Screening scheduled for June 21 and 22

The Three Forks School District is offering an Early Learning Program for the 2023-24 School Year.

Superintendent Rhonda Uthlaut told the Voice the district is excited to offer an expanded program in Three Forks, and Early Learning Screening for students turning four on or before September 10 will take place on Wednesday, June 21, and Thursday, June 22.

According to a Facebook post from the district, the program is intended for children the year before typical kindergarten enrollment and is based on the belief that optimal learning occurs when children are actively engaged in activities that have real-life meaning and application. “Children learn best by experiencing their environment through their senses, physical activity, and social interactions with other children. Feelings of competence and trust are developed through positive interactions with adults and peers,” states the post.

Uthlaut said programming is being developed for children the year before kindergarten entry (2YK) to provide children with early learning opportunities that support literacy and overall school success.

Uthlaut added House Bill 352 has been voted into effect and signed by Governor Greg Gianforte providing financial support for Early Learning in Montana. According to Uthlaut, House Bill 352 provides for Policy 3100 – Early Enrollment for Exceptional Circumstances. This policy provides for revisions to address the transition from early enrollment for exceptional circumstances to targeted intervention for reading proficiency as required on July 1, 2024.

“What this means for school districts is a substantial funding source to provide quality early learning opportunities for children in order to support and enhance literacy. The Three Forks School District received special grant funding from OPI to support the development of our Early Learning Program. The TFS District will also be able to collect ANB funding based on this year’s programming for each child enrolled and is also pursuing additional partnerships and grant funding available within Montana,” Uthlaut said.

The program will be housed in portable units near the stadium.

"We are working with the City to get water and sewer hooked up to the units. Recently, the City voted to waive the impact fees for water, sewer, and fire as a means of support for the district. This is greatly appreciated by the district as we work to provide quality programming and services to our youngest learners," Uthlaut said.


This week's Early Learning Screening will use DIAL 4, a tool Uthlaut said will be used to identify strengths and potential areas of concern related to the developmental stages of children.

Uthlaut said there would be a system assigning points according to a variety of factors, including but not limited to the following:

• Overall Screening Score Individual Education Plan (IEP)

• Identification of Various "At Risk" Factors

The district will share additional information related to the screening and enrollment with parents during the screening process. To make an appointment or for further information, call 406-285-6830.


The Three Forks School District is also working to develop programming that will include Infant/Toddler Care and Education.

The program is designed to provide care for children six weeks to 48 months.

"A warm, nurturing, and stimulating environment is essential in developing a child's trust in the world and in that child's future ability and willingness to take risks in the learning process and relate to others. This will be a fee-based program available for Three Forks School District staff. This program is intended as a staff recruitment and retention initiative as well as a quality early learning program for young children. This program is not intended to be a for-profit venture, but rather primarily self-sustaining through parent-paid fees," Uthlaut said.