Is the GFPS District really short of cash, or are their cries just a sleight of hand?
If, as Mark Finnicum, a school board member who also serves on the board’s budget committee said, the $1.75M upcoming levy isn’t to add new programs or staff but “is maintaining what we already have” is true…
…why is the district sitting on $8,958,473 of Federal Impact Aid Funds?
(According to school district staff, since the June 30, 2018 budget reported the GFPS Federal Impact Aid fund account at $9,563,780 it has only been reduced by $605,307, leaving the most recent balance at $8,958,473.)
According to the Montana Legislature Interim Committee on School Funding, “Federal Impact Aid to Montana’s school districts is classified as ‘Non-budgeted’ funds and can be used for a wide variety of expenses, including the salaries of teachers and teacher aides; purchasing textbooks, computers, and other equipment; after school programs and remedial tutoring; advanced placement classes; and special enrichment programs.
Most Impact Aid funds are considered general aid to the recipient school districts and may be used in whatever manner they choose, in accordance with state and local requirements. Although most school districts use Impact Aid for current expenditures, funds may also be used for capital expenditures. Payments for Children with Disabilities must be used for the extra costs of educating these children.”
The district’s General Fund figure for school years 2000 – 2001 $50,478,160 has increased for 2019-2020 to $71,538,984, which reflects a $21,060,824, or almost a 30% increase while enrollment for the same period has declined by 1,299 students.
This should confirm that the district’s growth has occurred because the district has now become a social services agency providing medical services, daycare, counseling and adult education.
Additionally, the administration has become bloated, like may other school systems, with salaries topping the charts.
Our City, County and Nation are facing the worst health and financial crisis of our lifetimes. Now is not the time for the school district to ask local taxpayers to dip deeper into their pockets for a school levy that the school district doesn’t need.
It is time for the school district to live within their means and redefine their mission to provide public education.