Do you think the Great Falls Public Schools District is bloated? Do you think there are too many highly paid administrators? If you answered yes to these two questions you are probably asking why, how did we get there, and why are they always crying that they need more money?

A recent article by U.S. News, ‘More Money, Same Problems’ provides some answers.

“Since World War II, inflation adjusted spending per student in American public schools has increased by 663 percent. Where did all of that money go? One place it went was to hire more personnel. During that time, public schools increased their staff by 386 percent-four times the increase in students. ‘The numbers of administrators and other staff increased by over seven times the increase in students.’

“This staffing surge still exists today. From 1992 to 2014…..American public schools saw a 19 percent increase in their student population and a staffing increase of 36 percent.”

It seems that GFPS is keeping up with the National trend.

Things to know before you vote on the GFPS levy:

>>>GF High and CMR High have 4 associate principals each, all making close to $90,000, in addition to two principals making $113,000 and $105,000?

>>>Superintendent Tammy Lacey’s salary is $150K before benefits, which is more than the Governor of Montana, about $35K per year more.

>>>11 administrators have salaries in excess of $100K before benefits.

>>>Without a vote by the taxpayers, the school district recently added $649,441 to our taxes.

>>>The GFPS school district currently is reportedly sitting on $15.4M in reserve funds.

>>>We are already paying for the school district’s $98M bond levy we approved just 7 months ago, 1/3 of which hasn’t shown up on your tax bill yet.

>>>The school district currently owns residential rental property.

>>>The school district has awarded multi-million dollar construction contracts without competitive bidding.

>>>The school district’s $1.348M operational levy is exclusively for contractual obligations, district employee healthcare insurance premium increases and employee raises.

GFPS administrative salaries are listed here:

Finally, here’s how Portland, OR is dealing with its budget shortfall.

Send a message on May 8th!

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

5 Replies to “Bloated”

  1. Phil- Here’s a question for GFPS. What percentage of health insurance expenditures are for retirees? How does the insurance utilization of retirees compare to the premiums paid by retirees? If my memory serves, at a meeting I attended a few years ago I heard that about half of the health insurance spend was for retirees and the utilization was 150% of the premiums they paid. The retirees in question are retired teachers who are too young for Medicare (65 or younger). It’s not unusual for teachers to retire in their 50’s. I would guess that few other citizens get to retire so young and keep on their former employer’s health insurance plan. If the stats are the same, then 25% of the GFPS health insurance spending is for people who are young enough to work but choose not to or work someplace else. Why do we subsidize early retirements by off laying off teachers who want to work and packing more kids into a classroom?


    1. Philip M. Faccenda April 28, 2018 at 12:36 PM

      RJ, That’s an excellent question and observation. We will look into that.
      Thank You,


      1. I am a retired teacher. Upon retirement, I assumed 100% of my own health insurance premiums. The district does not pay insurance for retired teachers. Not a dime.


        1. Vivki- Interesting, that’s the same thing Lacey told me at the meeting. I referred her to the tables and charts that she had handed out that showed the utilization for retirees was 150% of premiums paid and asked why are we subsidizing people who don’t work for the district and are not yet traditional retirement age. Lacey told me that retirees pay the full premium, I rolled my eyes and said yes but when retirees pay $1.00 for $1.50 worth of insurance services then someone else is paying the additional 50 cents. She just repeated that retirees pay the full premium and the conversation ended.

          So, Vicki, you may pay the full premium but that amount doesn’t cover the cost of what you receive. Retiring early is great if you can, but keeping retirees in the risk pool after they have moved on to other employment doesn’t seem to be of any benefit to the taxpayer. If the retiree’s insurance wasn’t a great deal (aka highly subsidized) for retirees, then why would it be such a large expense for the district and why would you keep it?

          If not for the insurance subsidy of retirees we would not be asking for a levy or laying off classroom teachers.


  2. Maybe it’s time we the taxpayers demand an independent audit of GFPS finances.


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