Great Falls High School 75.8% Graduation Rate?


Great Falls High School 75.8% graduation rate? Are you kidding me? The numbers are actually worse than what we previously reported in an E-City Beat article.

According to the Great Falls Tribune this morning, the Montana Office of Public Instruction announced that the combined graduation rate for the Great Falls Public School District is 80.08%. CMR had a graduation rate of 84%, while Great Falls High has a dismal rate of 75.8% for the school year 2017 – 2018. The Montana total graduation rate for the same period was 86.4%, meaning that both our local high schools were below the state average.

Upon hearing the numbers, current GFPS superintendent Tammy Lacey commented that “We’re a little perplexed and of course disappointed”. A little perplexed? Does this mean that the district is not acceptably performing? Hardly; Lacey was quick to blame the “budget cuts” and presumably the taxpayers for not passing operational levies. Never of course accepting her own responsibility, or that of the district administration, for almost 25 out of every one hundred students at GFH not graduating.

As we all know, graduation matters, and the rate of graduation is a primary metric used to indicate how well a school district is being run. You can shine it anyway you want, but such abysmal graduation rates should have consequences for those in charge.

Coincidentally, the announcement comes when the district board of trustees is about to interview and select a replacement for Superintendent Lacey. If you believe graduation rates should play a role in the selection of a new superintendent, you should note that one of the applicants is current assistant superintendent Tom Moore, who has held his position for 14 years, and one can conclude that his leadership has impacted our middle and high schools and subsequently our district graduation rates.

Comparatively, the Wisconsin applicant who currently serves as superintendent of the Waupaca School District, should be responsible for that district’s graduation rate of 92% as reported by U.S. News and World Report. Waupaca High School achieved a 19.2 college readiness, while Great Falls High School had a readiness score of 13.3.

Results matter when selecting a school district superintendent, or passing an operational levy. Great Falls parents and taxpayers will almost certainly be faced with a levy election this spring, but unfortunately the choice of a superintendent will be made by the school district board of trustees who will decide if we will get the same old, same old, or new ideas and strategies.

Our kids deserve more than they’re currently getting, don’t they?



Posted by Philip M. Faccenda

Philip M. Faccenda is an AIA award-winning architect and planner. He is the Editor-in-Chief of E-City Beat.

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