GFPS Levy Is 100% Not For ‘The Kids’

No, we are not talking about the graduation rate at the District’s two high schools, not even close. And we are not talking about the District budgeting acumen either.

What we are talking about is how much of the proposed $1.3M operational levy will be going for raises for staff and administrative positions and increases in employee health insurance premiums. 100%. That means no new programs for students and no new technology.

Most taxpayers in Great Falls feel that the District’s high paid administrative positions are like a runaway train and need to be reined in.

Here’s the Top 30:

You can view the spreadsheet for all administrative 2019-2020 salaries here. Data provided by the Great Falls Public School District.

14 Administrators out of the total 48 positions make more than $100,000.

17 more positions out of the total 48 make more than $90,000.

7 more positions out of the total 48 make more than $80,000.

The Governor of Montana makes $115,505. The Chief Justice of the Montana Supreme Court makes $145,619. OUR SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT MAKES $160,000

The school district will no doubt respond by saying that paying it’s staff more money has a positive effect on student achievement. But does it really produce better student outcomes?

According to a Washington Examiner article from August 29, 2018, “Spending more money on schools doesn’t help students learn.”

The article reports that after examining five years of comprehensive data on spending in all 422 school districts in Wisconsin, it concluded that “the relationship between student outcomes and overall per-student spending, spending on teacher salaries, and spending on administrative personnel, that none of the types of spending examined were found to correlate with better student outcomes. Of the three, perhaps the least surprising is that more spending on non-teaching staff leads to worse student outcomes.”

Just maybe our school district needs a new paradigm, not new taxes.

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Philip M. Faccendahttp://www.straymoose.com
Philip M. Faccenda is an AIA award-winning architect and planner. He is the Editor-in-Chief of E-City Beat.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Philip, how much do you make in comparison to other architects/planners? That’s all right, I really do not expect an answer. What you are failing to do is comparing other school districts salaries in Montana. I suppose you do not ask your employer for a raise each year? That is if you are not self-employed and if you are, I would bet that you raise your cost semi-annually if not annually. Like most people I would expect a raise every year. This is the same as the cost of everything increasing every year and I am just trying to keep up with the rising cost.

    As to the Article, lots of things contribute to the learning process. I like how you chose one sentence from the article to prove your point. Keeping and maintaining the good teachers we have is very important. There is always talk that we are losing our young population to other states because there are no good-paying jobs in Great Falls.

    I am not saying that throwing money away is good but how do you propose to keep the Teachers we have and somehow reward them. Maybe we give them a tee shirt that has the school logo on it? That does not pay the bills.

    And so that you know, I am not a teacher or do I work for the district.

  2. Does Phil’s income as a self-employed architect correlate with Great Falls School District administrative salaries? If it does, then Great Falls School District administrative salaries more-than-correlate with the salaries paid Montana’s Governor and the Chief Justice of Montana’s Supreme Court. Phil’s point is that we’re not getting the bang our educational buck deserves, that we’re paying the Great Falls Superintendent of Schools more than Montana’s Governor is paid and more than Montana’s Chief Justice is paid, in a school district of disappointing graduation rates. The impression Great Falls tax-payers are given is that this year’s Great Falls School District operational levy is “for the kids.” It’s not; it’s for school district employee raises and insurance. Phil’s recent article titled “Lying is the new norm,” can be applied here.

  3. The opinion piece you reference about Wisconsin schools provides no actual data nor details about the analysis to back their claim. Is it published elsewhere? They imply causation “more spending leads to worse student outcomes”, which you can’t demonstrate with a correlative analysis like they describe.

    They do say that the state of Wisconsin allocates more money to schools with troubled student populations and pays higher salaries to staff at those schools. So my guess is what the study really shows is that spending more money doesn’t make up for a troubled student population. Depending on the actual demographics and differences in spending, the fact that they didn’t find a strong negative correlation between spending and student outcomes might be evidence that spending more is working.

  4. Dear Jim Stone, Most of your comments are just flat out wrong. E-City Beat is a blog, not a book publisher, and if you really want the full Washington Examiner article you can just click on the highlighted credit. In any event, keeping reading our blog and do your own research and I think you will come to understand why voting NO for the school district levy is the best thing you can do to help kids, and not the overpaid administrators.

  5. If the levy does not pass it will severely affect your kids learning in a negative way. The conditions that the schools face already due to lack of funding are overcrowded classrooms, not enough aids, and the lack of ability to attract teachers to our district to fill vacant positions. Over the last decade the district has had to cut over 100 teachers which in turn affects class-size negatively affecting all the students in the class. When class sizes are large it’s harder for one teacher to reach 33 different students on different levels that could range from strategic to advanced and everything in between. If you are a homeowner, you will only see an increase of about $12 annually on your taxes. I would hope that if you do have children, you would be willing to give up one fast food meal to support the place where your child will spend the majority of their time until they’re 18 years old. Saying that voting no will be good for your kids is an absolute false statement. It will absolutely affect children in a negative way if you vote no. I really hope that people go educate themselves on what the levy is actually for and the facts surrounding it. I truly hope your article does not sway voters because of the falsehoods you presented.

    • Blake Miller,
      The proposed $1.75M will not pass, but students will not suffer any negative consequences and teachers and administrators will get their raises, increased health insurance premiums and contracted longevity increases will be given. Nothing will change, let not your heart be troubled. The District’s business model is unsustainable and hopefully another unsuccessful attempt to take more of the taxpayer’s hard earned money will serve as a catalyst for a paradigm change.

    • Blake Miller,
      The proposed $1.75M will not pass, but students will not suffer any negative consequences and teachers and administrators will get their raises, increased health insurance premiums and contracted longevity increases will be given. Nothing will change, let not your heart be troubled. The District’s business model is unsustainable and hopefully another unsuccessful attempt to take more of the taxpayer’s hard earned money will serve as a catalyst for a paradigm change.

  6. Blake,
    Show us something of substance to back up your claim here. Any of us can do the math to understand what this levy, and the next one, and the next one, will do to our taxes, but show us where this money will go in some way that will directly benefit our students.

  7. The levy this year will help schools keep the aids, therapy workers, and it will keep the classroom size where it’s at now. If you cannot see that this will benefit our students then I don’t know what else to say.
    In Montana school funding and the budgets are based off of district enrollment counts and 80% of that budget is is provided by the state, while the other 20% is covered by the local taxpayers.
    In the spring of 2019, approximately 50 teachers retired or resigned from the district. Recruiting and hiring new staff and RETAINING existing teachers has direct ties to the districts overall budget picture.
    You may not see major benefits to our students because over the last 10 years there has only been 2 levies passed. The levy for this year is to KEEP what they currently have so they do not have to make even more cuts then they already have. In just the last 3 years they have had to make reductions of over 4.4 million dollars.
    If the levy does not pass, this is when you will see the hindrance that it will put on our students.
    I urge you all to read the GFPS district budget information and educate yourselves on this matter.
    https://gfps.k12.mt.us/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/2019-20-GFPS_DistrictBudgetBook_FINAL.pdf

  8. Blake,
    It’s very apparent that you have bought the school district’s propaganda hook, line and sinker, nothing but lies and misdirection. Why don’t you explain it to your neighbors who are living on fixed incomes? Now, with the Virus upon us, you want to raise our taxes? Either you are a Fool, or do you have something to gain personally?

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