Looking A Gift Horse In The Mouth?

Would it be a smart idea to increase the CMR track improvements from a 6-lane track to an 8-lane track? The obvious answer is YES, and here is why.

It is widely known that competitive track meets can not be hosted on 6-lane tracks. Most competition cracks now being built are 8-lane, or 9-lane tracks.

(Please take our poll on this question at the end of this article.)

Recently a group of citizens promoting the addition of two more lanes to the GFPS six-lane design for CMR High School advanced their idea to a member of the GFPS Board of Trustees citing the follow reasons:

  • The proposal would not cost the taxpayers, or the District since the group has been successful in soliciting donations to cover the cost.
  • Having an 8-lane track means that practice and competitive meets could be     held at CMR.
  • It would take the burden from Memorial Stadium to hold all meets at GFHS which is scheduled for 27 events this spring.
  • It would provide additional opportunities for community members to use the facility.
  • It would address an eventual need at a time when the improvements are being made.
  • Concession sales at track meets would create a revenue stream benefiting CMR athletics.

Ok, so this idea makes a lot of sense.

But what is the School District’s view? (emphasis added)

Here’s how Superintendent Lacey responded to the promoters in an email dated 10-19-17: “I concur with the GFPS staff in that the 8-lane track is not advisable, feasible, or affordable.”

She further justifies her decision by saying: “The project’s architects, engineers, construction team and the District’s representatives, Hulteng, Inc, are not in support of this change.”

Well, is that true? The supporters asked the architects, CTA, if it was doable and they are reported to have said it would not be a problem to add two more lanes.

Lacey’s stated problems concerning the track can be easily resolved, and again, paid for through donations.

This link will show Superintendent Lacey’s email letter with names redacted.

Lacey concludes by saying: “While I know you probably don’t agree with my position, at the end of the day, I am ultimately responsible for the fulfillment of our facility plans.”

And we thought the elected Board of Trustees were responsible for the completion of the bond projects?

In Lacey’s preface to her reasons for rejecting the proposal for the added track lanes she states: “I received a phone call from Trustee Vukasin on Saturday during which she indicated that (a representative of the proposing group) had called her to express your concerns about the rejection of the 8-lane possibility. As a follow-up to your call to a Board member, I have reviewed the available information and …”.

Does that sound like Lacey was in any way pleased that someone would dare call an elected School Board Trustee? It reminds me of an earlier Great Falls City Manager, who organized a retreat for the newly elected City commissioners at which he said that commissioners should keep one thing in mind, that he was in charge of the City and that the appropriate role of the City Commission was only to back him up.

When someone, or some group, brings a great proposal to the District it should be addressed not in a condescending manner, but with an attitude of “How can we help bring your proposal to fruition”.

We need cooperation, not confrontation. In this case, if a job, or project, is worth doing, isn’t it worth doing right?

And if concerned citizens are willing to foot the bill through their donations we should “Never look a gift horse in the mouth”.

The District should be thinking about what is good for our city and CMR students, past, present and future by bringing the matter to the elected Board of Trustees for a fair hearing.

Take the E-City Beat poll now.

[poll id=”9″]



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

6 Replies to “Looking A Gift Horse In The Mouth?”

  1. I graduated in ’69, the same year as Pre. Many of my friends ran against Pre in high school. I have been a runner, a jogger, and now a slogger (slow jogger) for fifty years. I love track. Let’s go with eight lanes. You won’t regret it!


  2. So in reading the PDF of Tammy Lacey’s email I see her view seems to encompass more than just adding lanes to the track. Would the additional lanes interfere with the shed or other items mentioned by Mrs. LACEY? I do not think the addition is a bad idea but if it were to affect the planned improvements budget or timing, I may be more cautious.
    I have a serious problem with her attitude towards her role as superintendent.


  3. Why are the architects and the engineers opposed? I don’t know enough about this to make an informed opinion.


  4. Steve Strickland February 2, 2018 at 10:25 AM

    Of course Tammy Lacey doesn’t want it done adding the lanes to the track makes sense it would actually benefit the school district plus and most importantly it won’t cost the tax payers anything which she can’t stand.


  5. I would like to vote for the expansion of the lanes but was unable to find a link


    1. You have to go to the ecitybeat Facebook page and like it then have the ability to vote.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *