Group of kids having fun together

Frequently Asked Questions

How are students grouped in the education program?

There is a fairly wide range of ability levels in classes, often with students who have more than one disability. Students are grouped by age and ability to the greatest extent possible. As in any public school, students are assigned to a grade level, and their education is based on a curriculum aligned with state standards. As determined by each student's IEP team, the curriculum is modified to the extent necessary to meet their individualized instruction needs.

What are the living arrangements like for residential students?

Each of the four wings of the residential complex is known as a “cottage,” which is arranged like a home where a group of either boys or girls of a similar age range live. Each room is designed for two students, although many are able to have their own room.  Each student has a bed, desk, chair, and a closet with drawers. For older students, a bathroom is shared between two rooms. To provide better supervision for younger children, their cottage wings have common bathroom and shower areas.


Can students bring personal items to the cottages?

Absolutely. The school does provide linens, pillows, blankets and all furniture. Many of the students bring their own bedspread or comforter, and of course their favorite stuffed animal. Each of the rooms has bulletin boards for the students to hang posters, schedules, letters from home, and other mementos. Students are responsible for their own clothing and learn to do their laundry.

What supervision is provided in the cottages?

Two houseparents are on duty in each wing during the hours that the students are out of school and awake. 
Overnight, the nightwatch staff is on duty in the two residential buildings. To provide security and to make sure the kids are in their assigned areas, the staff checks on them at least every fifteen minutes (and more often if necessary).

How are meals provided for students in the residential program?

The house parents or night watch staff prepare breakfast, which the students eat in the dining areas of their cottage wings. On weekends, the students may fix their own breakfast. 
Weekday lunches are served in the common dining room and are very similar to meals served in the public schools.  The students sit 4-5 per table, and the food is served family style.  
Dinners and weekend lunches are prepared in the main kitchen and delivered to the dining area of each cottage wing, where they are served family style.
The nutritious meals include a variety of foods and follow USDA guidelines. There are also Formal Dinners around the holidays, when the students may invite teachers, and the dining room is decorated. This is a special time for the students, as they are excited about going home for the holidays.

What interaction do students have with other students in the residential program?

Although the students sleep and live with students similar in age, they do have the opportunity to socialize with those either younger or older. Students are supervised by the staff at all times. Situations in which students of varying ages may interact could be functions when all the cottages are together (parties, formal dinners, activities in the gym, and general visiting). The staff makes every effort to make sure these interactions are positive and age appropriate.    

How often do residential students come home?

Students can go home whenever they want. However, the School will only pay for transportation on one designated weekend per month. Travel dates have been set by the school calendar, which is published prior to the beginning of each school year. Students travel home on charter buses, with supervision by Residential staff.

Can I visit whenever I want?

Parents and family members are always welcome to visit their child on campus. Several rooms have been designated as visitor rooms. These rooms are for parents, families of children going through a short-term evaluation, families coming to MSDB to check out the program or parents who might just want to spend time with their child. We advise families to call ahead to make sure room is available. There is no cost for family use of these facilities.

How much day-to-day control do parents relinquish?

This is a concern for many parents. The School makes every effort to allow parents to maintain as much control as possible. Parents’ permission is sought for off-campus activities. Some parents might request to be called to give permission each time their child goes on a date, for example. We accommodate parents' wishes to the extent practical. There is extensive communication between students and their parents. With TDD's, the relay system, video phones, e-mail, cell phones, and texting, parents maintain regular contact with their children.

What if a child needs medical care while at MSDB?

MSDB Health Care Services is staffed daily by LPN's under the direction of an RN, with on-call services at night. The nursing staff works closely with parents, staff, and the child's physician to develop the best plan of care for the student while in attendance at MSDB. As needed, MSDB Health Services personnel will accompany children to medical, vision and dental exams. Emergency medical care is always available 24 hours a day at Benefis Health System in Great Falls. At MSDB, all medications are kept in the Health Services department. Medications are dispensed only by the LPN's and RN, and with written doctor's orders. Parents are contacted by the Health Services staff when their child is not feeling well. The School has an infirmary for students who need to be isolated while they are sick. If a child is going to be ill for an extended period, the parents may take their child home.

How often would my child receive speech therapy as an MSDB student?

Speech therapy services are individualized and designed to support the student in his or her educational program. The regularity of these services is determined at the child's IEP meeting.

How often would my child receive physical and/or occupational therapy as an MSDB student?

Physical and occupational therapies are provided primarily as consultative support to classroom teachers and designed to support the student in his or her educational program. The regularity of these services is determined at the child's IEP meeting. Most students who need ongoing PT or OT have health insurance or are on Medicaid and receive therapy in a clinical setting outside of the school day.