GFPS Superintendent Musical Chairs (But Only One Person And One Chair)


Today, the Tribune reported what some people learned last weekend; the Great Falls Public School District has only one remaining candidate for the new superintendent’s position.

With the assistance of the Montana School Boards Association, (for which GFPS payed MSBA $8,000 of taxpayer money), the field of seven applicants required to respond by the deadline of November 30, 2018, was reduced to three.

The much loved and respected Lincoln Elementary School principal Jon Konen was eliminated because in part trustee Jason Brantley said “he didn’t feel Konen was ready just yet to serve as superintendent“. How would he know? Trustee Jeff Gray said; “The learning curve with Jon and Greg is far too great”. Again, how would he know? Did the board ask Mr. Konen how he would correct the dismal graduation rate at Great Fall High, 75.8%? Not to my knowledge.

What was Tammy Lacey’s administrative experience before she was hired as superintendent? She came from a teacher/principal and HR background and was never a superintendent or even an assistant superintendent.

Then, this past weekend, Dr. Greg Nyen, superintendent of Waupaca school district in Wisconsin, with a high school graduation rate of 92%, withdrew himself because he “didn’t think GFPS would be a good fit for him now”. Do you think Dr. Nyen heard that the Superintendent of the Whitefish school district is looking for another job? Whitefish is where Nyen admittedly fell in love with Montana. Too bad he didn’t go skiing at Showdown, right?

What we have now is a game of musical chairs with one chair and one player. That one contestant is Tom Moore, Current GFPS assistant superintendent of Secondary, K 7-12.

Moore will be the only one interviewing for the superintendent’s job at 5:30 tomorrow evening, Thursday 1/24/19, unless the board of trustees decides to conduct a new round of advertising, which according to the chairman of the board, Jan Cahill, could be possible since there is still plenty of time to do so.

It should be noted that Missoula just started advertising for their new superintendent. Perhaps Tom Moore might be interested in moving to Missoula, considering that he recently applied for the same position in Kalispell.

Would anything change with a Superintendent Moore, or would it be the same old, same old as we reported in a previous E-City Beat article? While it is certainly true that Tammy Lacey has been the face of the district, Tom Moore also owns the current graduation rates, and many of the decisions relative to the $98M construction bond projects. For example, a number of local construction companies and architectural firms are not happy with the process to award contracts. Major general construction contracts have been awarded without competitive bidding and architectural work has been awarded using a secretive evaluation model where selection committee members are not identified on their grading sheets. So much for transparency and public record laws.

Transparency and the public’s right to know has also been thwarted in recent cases of thefts from the district and a teacher’s sexual relationship with a student.

In addition to the most recent reporting of a 75.8% graduation rate at Great Falls High, during Mr. Moore tenure as assistant superintendent for secondary, the AYP report for GFH from 2007 to 2011 is equally troubling. See below.

“More recently, GFHS has had trouble meeting the “adequate yearly progress” (AYP) standards established by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). Schools that miss AYP are put on a watch list. If a school misses AYP for a second consecutive year, the school is publicly labeled as being “in need of improvement.” The school is then required to develop a two-year improvement plan for the subject(s) that the school is not teaching well. GFHS was forced to develop this plan for implementation in the 2007–2008 school year. Missing AYP in the third year forces the school to offer free tutoring and other supplemental education services to struggling students. GFHS was forced to offer these services in the 2009–2010 school year. If a school misses AYP for a fourth consecutive year, the school is publicly labeled as requiring “corrective action.” Corrective actions could include wholesale replacement of staff, introduction of a new curriculum, or extending the amount of time students spend in class. GFHS was forced to implement corrective action in the 2010–2011 school year.” SOURCE – Wikipedia

Given that multiple motions to approve Mr. Moore as the next GFPS superintendent failed on votes of three in favor and four opposed, and with the elimination or withdrawal of the other two viable candidates, the advertising and selection process should begin anew and the board needs to ask the tough questions and ferret out some original ideas for improving the school district. Curiously, the four women board trustees voted in opposition to Mr. Moore and the three men voted in favor. Are women better judges of people? Maybe.

In my opinion, we don’t deserve more of the same and if the district fails to select a quality superintendent it will be three strikes and you’re out.

Please call Mr. Jan Cahill, Chairman of the school board, and express your opinion. 899-1988, or email the entire board at



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.

Reader interactions

7 Replies to “GFPS Superintendent Musical Chairs (But Only One Person And One Chair)”

  1. Mr. Faccenda said “Transparency and the public’s right to know has also been thwarted in recent cases of thefts from the district and a teacher’s sexual relationship with a student.”

    Might that be because criminal justice information is confidential unless and until charges are filed?


    1. It’s not popular to uphold “Innocent until proven guilty” any more…read a blog and get ‘woke’…that’s what all the cool kids want.


    2. And why do you think charges weren’t filed?


      1. I have no idea why charges weren’t filed. I’m not privy to the information that would enable me to comment on that.
        I take it that you have a belief as to why charges haven’t been filed. What might that be?


  2. Brad J Scheevel January 24, 2019 at 3:37 PM

    This reminds me of a classic Toby Keith song “The Critic”…hid behind his typewriter and gunned the boy down. I take it you didn’t win any of the $98m construction bond projects you felt entitled for, and somehow blame Tom Moore? One thing you are right about, this is as you state “Unfit for print”.


  3. Why, Brad J. Scheevel, do you consider this article unfit for print? It’s very informative and filled with information we should all be knowledgeable of. Are you….is any of us….satisfied with the Great Falls Public High School graduation rate?


  4. The school bonds are a joke. Have you looked at the quality of the buildings we are paying for? They will be garbage before they are paid for. But damn we have a cool football field!! The system is broken and corrupt. I am disgusted


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