Great Falls, Great Teachers, A Great Challenge


A piece in E-City Beat last week got me thinking about our local teachers. Most of our Great Falls teachers are really good, honest, hard-working folks who just want to make a difference in the lives of kids and our community.

Unfortunately sometimes our teachers don’t get enough thanks for what they do for kids, some of which have irresponsible parents who regard school as free daycare or worse – teachers as surrogate parents.

So with school starting this week, let me take this opportunity to say ‘THANK YOU!’ to all of the awesome teachers in our public and private school systems here.

I was raised in Great Falls, raised my own two daughters here, started helping to raise my grand-kids here and will happily credit the Great Falls public school system and our awesome teachers for the job they do in helping to educate our children. Both of my daughters’ success in life is in large part due to the quality public education they received here.

The E-City Beat piece from last week mentioned that teachers and District employees, especially the Administration on the hill, need to do a better job at public relations if they want to pass local school levies, and I agree.

But the far more troubling issue facing public schools funding in Great Falls is illustrated in the following data contained in a US Census Bureau interim report released in February of this year. In an 8-year span between 2010 and 2018:

  • Gallatin County (Bozeman/Belgrade) population increased 22,363 = 25% growth.
  • Flathead County (Kalispell) population increased 11,179 = 12.3% growth.
  • Missoula County population increased 9495 = 8.7% growth.
  • Lewis & Clark County (Helena) population increased 5305 = 8.4% growth.
  • Yellowstone County (Billings) population increased 12,155 = 8.2% growth.
  • Silver Bow County (Butte) population increased 784 = 2.3% growth.
  • Cascade County (Great Falls) population increased 320 = 0.4% growth.

If we don’t turn this around then all the positive PR in the world won’t make a difference because we won’t have the tax base to continue our local legacy of quality public education.

Like it or not, ready or not, we are competing with other state and regional cities for resources, taxpayers, and the kind of growth necessary to prosper and fund things like public education in the 21st-century.



Posted by Rick Tryon

Rick Tryon is an entrepreneur, a singer-songwriter, and is currently serving a four year term as a Great Falls City Commissioner. Helping Montana become an even greater place to live, play and work is Tryon's passion.

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