A School Board Trustee recently lowered the BOOM on a Great Falls citizen by using the “I” bomb to describe his associated intellectual level.

Laura Vukasin, can you tell us how you really feel about the taxpayers of our community?

“Laura Vukasin, can you tell us how you really feel about the taxpayers of our community?”

It all starts in a public forum comment section on E-City Beat discussing the upcoming School District Operational Levy, “Do School District Levies Ever Expire?”. A member of the public asks a simple question.

Chuck Harling April 13, 2018 at 1:22 PM

“Question to ask – why do all the buildings and grounds employee’s drive their district vehicle home at night. I followed one van that goes all the way to Stocket. Must be nice to have the tax payer pay for your fuel to drive back and forth. Check it out if you don’t believe me. I heard that it was because they needed them if there was and emergency in the district. Haven’t heard of a lot of painter or carpentry emergencies. Just ask why.”

This question was passed on to Superintendent Lacey via email by Cyndi Baker and on April 18, 2018, Superintendent Lacey responded via email.

“Thank you for bringing the concern indicated in the email below to my attention. The District’s response is in red:

  • Why do all the buildings and grounds employee’s drive their district vehicle home at night?  All the Buildings and Grounds (B&G) employees don’t drive their vehicles home at night.  The Painter, Electrician, Plumber and Carpenter Foremen do as well as the Supervisor and Assistant Supervisor of Buildings and Grounds.  All other vehicles, including the technology vans, are left at the B&G Headquarters at Little Russell.

  • I heard that it was because they needed them if there was and emergency in the district. Haven’t heard of a lot of painter or carpentry emergencies.  The Foremen are allowed to take their vehicles home because they are on call.  Unfortunately, we have vandalism that occurs in our school district and most of it occurs at night or on weekends.  This happens more frequently than one would think.  When noticed by police, by the very early morning custodians, or on weekends when there are events, the foremen and supervisors are immediately called to the site.  As to the “painter and carpentry emergencies,” questioned by Mr. Harling, they are the ones responsible for fixing broken glass (GFPS cuts and installs most of our own glass) and mitigating graffiti.  Most recently, the Painter Foreman replaced a window that was broken at a basketball tournament on a weekend at GFHS and the next week sandblasted some obscene graffiti off of a wall at an elementary school before students arrived to see it.  Plumbers and electricians are often called out as well to troubleshoot and repair boiler problems and water line breaks. Their vans have the necessary supplies and equipment for emergency repairs.  The Supervisor and/or Assistant Supervisor accompany the on-call foremen so there is another pair of hands to do the work.

  • I followed one van that goes all the way to Stocket.  One foreman does live in Stockett.  The efficiency and efficacy of having this foreman immediately available with all of his supplies at any time, versus having him drive to his van at the Headquarters, far outweighs the price of gas to and from Stockett.

Lacey’s response was passed on to other members of the District, including the School Board Trustees. When Trustee Vukasin received the information she evidently went ballistic, and wrote in an email:

“I am so thankful that those of us who work for/with the GFPS district have enough to do so that we don’t feel it necessary to follow a GFPS work vehicle home every night…..absolutely unbelievable the ignorance of some people….”

So, a taxpayer who is concerned about the District’s stewardship of our hard-earned dollars asks a logical question, and in return his question is labeled as one of ignorance by a sitting school board member? We believe she should be asked to resign immediately. What do you think?


  1. I wouldn’t exactly say her response was “Ballistic,” but it was unnecessary. As a citizen, anyone should be able to ask a question without feeling like they will be scorned for doing so. I’ve lived here 20+ years, and I had no idea these vehicles were going to the workers home, and I think Mrs. Lacey made a helpful, polite justification as to why.

  2. Gas is cheap. Not a big deal, relatively speaking. It’s not like they’re goin’ out to dinner on our dime. Your other posts are much better as far as accountability goes. The district could definitely show some sympathy and compassion though in other ways. How bout the teachers say no to a raise every now and then. Yes, they do a great job, but so do most of the rest of us for far less money and benefits.

    • Are you kidding me, Larry?? I taught in that district from the late 70’s thru the early 2000’s and I can’t tell you how many years we didn’t get a raise. We were the worst paid teachers in the state.

      • Bullshyt! You never taught in Red Lodge, Hardin, Chester, Joplin, or Great Falls Central as I did. You want to compare income tax receipts? Come again with something substantial. I always resented you guys. We worked twice as hard for less pay. Ever had EIGHT preps? I did. Now stop your whining. It’s unbecoming. Tell me where YOU taught in the outback! And then we’ll talk. Until then, you got nuthin’!

        • Wages are very easy verifiable. Before we fall for this “I’m so damn poor” argument, why don’t we have Eric Feaver post the comparative salaries for each district, including health insurance from mid seventies on. That will shut some folks up REAL fast! Let me put it this way. I CAN’T afford to live in Fox Farm as many teachers do. I live the ghetto! Well, not exactly the ghetto, but working class area. I love it there. Never have wanted to live with snobs.

  3. No- I do NOT think Laura should resign. She has served for YEARS WITH NO PAY! Do you all want to add the amount of hours she has committed to serving our community and ask such a thing? Let’s not go making a mountain out of a mole hill. Frustration is frustration. But to ask for one’s resignation over something so trivial? What has become of the community? I have known Laura since Junior High and can say nothing but the best of her – Exceedingly brilliant, a good business woman, a wonderful person and one that volunteers endlessly for our community. Who of you that are complaining the loudest would be willing to put in the endless time and effort that she has if you want to replace her?? Think before you say stuff like this.

    • Ruth, If Trustee Vukasin is “exceedingly brilliant”, why did she apparently commit a conflict of interest, similar to those recently admonished by HUD concerning City officials, when voting to award contracts to fellow private board members? Not once, but twice, even after admitting on a radio interview that it was probably not a good idea the first time. She should resign, or at least not run for re-election.

  4. Another reason I always voted against there levy ……. That is the most ridiculous answer about the guy that drives to Stockett everyday ……. Another fine example of an educated idiot !!!!!

  5. I still believe they should not drive district cars home. If you are on call and need to come in then turn in a mileage reimbursement form. Less wear and tear and public vehicles.

    • Really? Great Falls is what, five miles across? At the most? Just doesn’t get me riled up. My pal took a van home every night. Probably fifty cents in gas. I’m OK with that. As I mentioned, it wouldn’t hurt the teachers to forego a raise now and then. They should try teaching in the outback as I did. THEN they might appreciate GF wages a little more.

  6. Terrible reply by Vukasin. Taxpayers have every right to ask questions and demand efficiency of the dollars we are being taxed. She should resign if she can’t tolerate a simple reply to good questions.

  7. Ignorance is not what it is when a taxpayer questions operational standards of a mismanaged school district that thinks money grows on tree’s. Instead of spending taxpayer money for tires,gas and oil on vehicles that district employee’s take home, use that money to reward teachers that excel in in there profession, “Teaching”.
    And oh by the way, Laura Vukasin does need to resign. It is apparent she is dumber than a sheep by the e-mail she sent out. We sure don’t need her input on managing the school district….Baaaa

  8. Why all the hatred I used to think this site was somewhat informative but now I think it is someone’s personal vendetta against our school district and pretty much anything else going on. Who the hell cares if the foreman take the company car home give me a break. Sounds like stalker talk. We travel the state regularly and spent a lot of time at other schools it blows my mind that a small town like miles city has nicer facilities than Great Falls because of people like you that obviously don’t have children and don’t think education is important because these school districts articles are written by a not very educated person.

  9. Mason, You don’t have a clue about whether the authors of E-City Beat’s school district pieces have children, or how educated they are. What is your level of education? I hope you read the blog often and learn just a little.

    • Phil, there ARE ways to save money on schools. The absolute very FIRST thing that schools need to do is dump their health insurance by district. It needs to be a state wide system with a huge pool to draw from. Why the hell does each district have their own health insurance policy. Doesn’t make sense. They should be like state employees. In fact, one pay scale for the entire state would be better too. Good luck trying to get GF teachers to help the fellow teachers out there. They’re just too damn greedy!

  10. I do not view the response by Ms. Vukasin as a ‘fire worthy’ offense. But I do think it demonstrates the gap between our school district and the people who pay the bills for the school district. Is the mentality that we the people are not smart enough to know how our $$ should be spent or even ask relevant questions prevalent among board members? I hope not.

    • I think the answers from the superintendent show the same disrespect for the tax payer. The examples Lacey details for us as to why GFPS work trucks are driven for personnel reasons, specifically mentioned were the emergencies of a broken window and sandblasting graffiti. I seriously doubt the work vehicles are stocked with glass or sandblasters, so for these examples the GFPS employee had to drive back to the shop anyway. So how dumb do they think we are or how dumb are they really? Not a confidence building choice when being asked to vote for more funding. The funding may be needed but how do we know with this kind of messaging?

      Also, when Lacey implies gas is the only cost for the foreman who commutes to Stockett, she again frames an issue ridiculously simple with gas being the only cost. The mileage costs for a work truck would be at least more than the IRS passenger vehicle allowance of $.54/mile. Assuming 20 miles from Little Russel to Stockett and 260 trips (assumes some call in trips, and other personnel errands other than commute) to town a year that’s 10,400 miles or $5,600 dollars. Do we get $5,600 worth of “efficiency and efficacy” over a year? Is it idiotic to ask if we would be better off hiring a local foreman? It’s clear that items like this deserve a fair and open vetting before we start laying off classroom teachers and deriding citizens for asking reasonable questions.

  11. I worked for the City and took my vehicle home at night, I live less than a mile from my work place so saving money on gas wasn’t really an issue. Many times I was called for maintenance problems that that occurred outside of my normal work hours and the work truck was appreciated. It would probably look odd to folks to see me working out of my Outback late at night instead of the City truck and that might have caused some concern. Although it was ok with the City rules that I could use the vehicle for some personal business I never did. They also assigned me a phone I grew to hate. I payed the City a small amount of money for the use of the vehicle each year for tax purposes. I believe the taxpayers benefited .

    I live down the street from a City employee that uses his City vehicle to drive home multiple times during the day although it’s never there overnight or weekends. I suspect he’s not on call or a foreman. I’ve seen him spend a lot of time at home during the work hours over the years and I finally sent the City’s hotline a text asking why that employee spent so much time at home during the day. I gave the the license number and address. I got an email it was being handled and case closed. Another year went by with no change so I emailed again, same answer, case closed. Another year and I was told that it was being taken care of and it won’t happen again. Case closed. They really must have put the pressure on because I’ve only seen the truck parked at home a few times the last month. . I know this conversation was meant to be about the County and not the City, but it’s still taxpayer money.


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