MFPE Field Consultant Urges GFPS Staff To Boycott Local Business

For some in the local education/union/non-profit cabal, the passage of yesterday’s school levy wasn’t nearly satisfying enough.

“Winning” — which was all “for the kids,” right? — only served as preface to the final act: revenge.

If you had the audacity to oppose the levy, you might want to think twice about saying so publicly, especially if you own a business and care about your livelihood. If you voted no, you are a dissenter, and therefore, you must be destroyed.

On The Electric’s Facebook page, commenter Cory McKinney drew the ire of a person called Shelli Lavinder-Schwalk. According to GFPS’ website, Lavinder-Schwalk is the President of the Great Falls Education Association. That’s not true, of course; Lavinder Schwalk hasn’t been the GFEA president for years. She now works as a field consultant for the Montana Federation of Public Employees, the parent organization of the GFEA.

When McKinney quipped that landlords will raise rent, Lavinder-Schwalk urged all GFPS staff to boycott Mckinney’s wife’s business, Bright Eyes Cafe (formerly Five Loaves).

Interestingly, though, it wasn’t Lavinder-Schwalk who first identified Mckinney’s connection to Bright Eyes. McKinney can thank serial commenter Carrie Smale Galvez for that.

Incredibly, Galvez actually claimed she was trying to help McKinney — by sending a flag to educators, on a Facebook page heavily trafficked by educators, that McKinney is “often critical of GFPS.” Then, Galvez issued her own veiled threat to boycott Bright Eyes.

It is unclear where McKinney “verbally lashed” at Galvez.

As for Lavinder-Schwalk’s comment, you won’t be able to find it in the original thread. After receiving a tip from a reader, I called the GFEA to confirm her employment as president. I spoke with current president Bob Griffith and Linda Ballew, who told me that Lavinder-Schwalk has not been with the GFEA since 2018. Curiously, her comment disappeared about 20 minutes after I spoke with Griffith and Ballew.

I was able to capture a screenshot, though (nice try, all).

No matter your feelings on a particular policy question, assaulting the livelihoods of the very community members who pay our educators’ salaries and benefits, and just because they merely disagree with you, goes too far.

Lavinder-Schwalk obviously discredited herself, but here’s betting that in the eyes of MFPE boss Amanda Curtis, her vitriol will be celebrated instead of condemned.

Philip M. Faccenda
Philip M. Faccenda
Philip M. Faccenda is an AIA award-winning architect and planner. He is the Editor-in-Chief of E-City Beat.


  1. So does she work for the union or not. At one point you say she works for the GFEA, then you said she works for MFEA, then you said she doesn’t work for them at all, then you contradicted yourself again. Which is it Phil? Another thing, you say you believe in the first amendment, freedom of speech, then you actively attack individuals for expressing their opinions. Who made you? You are why people don’t move here. You are the reason no one wants to participate in local government. You f-ing suck ass.

    • Luke Jaraczeski, aka “Phil sucks”,
      Thanks for the heads-up. There was a typo in the 4th to last paragraph which has been corrected. Schwalk was president of GFEA until 2018, now she is a field rep for their parent association, MFPE.
      Good catch, “Phil sucks”. We also appreciate your faithful readership of our blog. Every click counts. 🙂 Stay safe.

      • You’re welcome! One thing I have to ask though however is why, after many people have asked, have you not compared the salaries of the superintendents of the different school districts in the state? Ive seen this question multiple times on this site. You guys seem to be active, so why no response to these questions? Some searches on google would find the pay, and some more searching would find student populations which can used to find a per-capita pay amount, for a better comparison.
        This is the data I found, which should be pretty close. I got population data from livability, and pay data from news sites.
        Helena – $163,000 (2018) Population 8,065. $20.21 per student
        Billings – $170,000(2019) Population 16,644. $10.21 per student
        Bozeman – $165,000(2019) Population 7,205. $22.90 per student
        Missoula – $180,000(2019) Population 8,959. $20.09 per student
        Great Falls – $160,000(2020) Population 10,157 $15.75 per student
        (notes) I believe Missoula has multiple school districts but I’m unsure about that data.

        • Luke, all of those communities are richer than Great Falls. Wages and earnings are higher in those communities than they are in Great Falls. Those communities are growing. Great Falls isn’t. Why, then, should we pay school administrators more than do the communities with more wealth and more growth?

          • Based on the research the poster Luke did, Great Falls is NOT paying them more. $160,000 is the lowest number in the list. But it is “competitive” which is what one would expect.

            Does ECB have different numbers to share?

          • No disagreement with the numbers. Moreover, the salaries are more or less appropriate, relatively speaking. In other words, all of the communities Luke cited have more wealth and more growth than does Great Falls. It makes sense, then, that Billings, Bozeman, Missoula, et al pay their superintendents more than GFPS pays its superintendent. And you’re right, $160,000 is plenty competitive, though the voters just gave Moore a bump.

          • So what do you believe is an appropriate salary for Mr. Moore? Maybe you could enlighten us with that. Even if he took a 100% pay cut, it would not make a dent in the funding shortage that our school district has had for many years now. Also, you mention in an earlier comment that “$160,000 is plenty competitive, though the voters just gave Moore a bump.” If you look at levy fact sheets, as well as any new source, it is stated that the levy will be used for operational costs, new text books, and staff training. I believe a superintendent pay raise must be approved by the school board. Another thing that should be done, is compare the total, overall spending for the school districts, separated out into admin costs, and staffing costs, in a per-capita amount. You don’t have a valid argument if you can’t back it up with facts.
            As for growth, I recommend you do some reading about how cities grow. Cities need strong schools, good parks, and safety. I’ve commented on here about this issue before. Great Falls has struggled because in the past because we have put all of our eggs in one basket. (ex: the smelter, the base, SME power plant) For the first time, we are seeing real growth, but why?
            Most likely it’s because we as a community have come together to support our parks, support our schools, support our medical sector, and support our emergency personnel. Take for example the developments on the West Bank. Or the Apartments planned by the Milwaukee Station. What about continued investment downtown. Look at downtown Great Falls now, and compare it to how it was twenty years ago. What about the fact that real estate in Great Falls has seen a continual uptick for the past few years. When you say ‘Great Falls isn’t growing’, you ignore these things.
            Let’s take a look at where Great Falls is growing and developing. First, let’s look at the West Bank. The voters approved a parks district to help maintain parks,(Bozeman approved a parks district this year) and a lot of money has gone into making the riverfront a nice, pleasant place to be. If you haven’t been out there recently, I recommend you go take a look. Properties around nice, maintained parks can have values up to 20% higher than similar properties elsewhere. Something that I have an issue with, is that certain people on this blog have written that the city should sell parkland. Why would the city sell the only assets they have, which help spur development?
            New development has even started to happen downtown. New apartments have been planned above the Mighty Mo, and Alluvion (formerly CCHD) is planning to spend millions of dollars to renovate the Rocky Mountain Building, and bring somewhere around 200 employees into downtown. An 83 unit apartment building is planned next to the Milwaukee Building. The building is surrounded by parkland, and is very close to downtown.
            While Great Falls isn’t growing fast, it is still growing. If we take our foot off the gas now, we will forever stay the same. For once, Great Falls has some real momentum, because of the hardworking individuals in our government, and the citizens of our great city.
            PS Why don’t you include your ways to help Great Falls grow, and thrive

  2. It’s a free country. People have a right to vote with their pocketbook as well as their ballot.

    I stopped wearing Levi’s because of their anti-gun stance. I stopped using Gillete because of their stupid ad. GFPS school employees have the same right as long as they don’t try to make it an official policy.

  3. As the actual owner/operator of Brighht Eyes Cafe, I have posted my own reply on the referenced thread. I am not responsible for Cory – I’m his wife not his mother.

  4. As soon as I find out where this cafe is, I will be in there to support it. Obviously, Schwalk is a very petty person who I am thrilled not to know. She should remember “What goes around comes around.” Karma is a _itch.


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