Pedal To The Medal

Is it time for the Great Falls Public School District to take their foot off the levy pedal and apply the brakes?

It is apparent that the school district’s overpaid administrators and the local rubber-stamp school board are heading full speed ahead with guns blazing to take another $1.75 Million from the taxpayer’s pockets on May 8.

More district administrators are set to join the $100K club if the levy passes and they receive their 2% raises.

You’d probably say they have more guts than a government mule, and you’d be right. They are short on ideas and results, but no one can say they are short on guts.

Or are they just plain dumb? As John Wayne is famous for saying “Life is tough, but it’s tougher when you’re stupid”.

As one of our readers noted in the following letter of appeal:

Great Falls Public School Board,

In these unprecedented times, with a deadly virus sweeping our state and our nation, you need to rethink placing the school levy on the ballot this year. Belgrade has canceled its school levy election and on the news this morning, I heard that Bozeman has canceled school levies as well. Great Falls Public Schools should do the same.

Our country is hurting financially, emotionally and mentally due to this virus. The middle of a federally declared national emergency is not the time to be asking voters, many of whom are out of work, for more money. It will show that GFPS is insensitive to the plight of the voters. We are all making sacrifices at this difficult time. GFPS needs to follow suit, tighten its belt and do the best with the resources it currently possesses.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Jeni Dodd

The GFPS administrator’s actions with this levy they don’t need, (the district has a reported reserve of federal impact funds of more than $8.5 Million), are like the pig making the farmer squeal.

Other school districts in Montana see the stupidity and long-lasting public relation errors in promoting a self-serving levy during our present national crisis.

“The Bozeman School Board agreed Friday to cancel two of three tax-raising requests on the May 5 ballot because of the economic pain facing taxpayers from the coronavirus epidemic shutting down the nation’s economy…

Earlier this month the school board had agreed to ask voters to OK two tax increases totaling $669,000 to help the elementary schools and high school cover the regular costs of paying teachers, light bills and the like.

But in the face of the virus pandemic, hundreds of businesses have closed, many people have lost their jobs and unemployment insurance applications have skyrocketed.

‘Given today’s climate and circumstances, it makes an immense amount of sense’ to cancel those two tax requests, said Trustee Tanya Reinhardt.”

Bozeman Daily Chronicle, March 27, 2020

The Belgrade School Board took similar action:

“Due to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, the Belgrade School Board voted Monday to cancel the May 5 levy elections that would have asked voters for a combined $1.1 million to fund school operations and pay for new technology in the elementary district.

Superintendent Godfrey Saunders recommended that the action in light of the economic impacts of COVID-19 closures on the community.

‘There are many families having difficult times right now, and there is a lot of uncertainty,’ Saunders told the Belgrade News Monday afternoon. ‘We don’t want to add something else to their plates right now.’”

Belgrade News, March 30, 2020

Only time will tell if the GFPS administrators and school board will come to their collective senses – if they don’t, an overwhelming NO vote on May 8 will certainly provide the smelling salts.

Editor’s Note: Just prior to posting, Jeni Dodd received the following gratuitous reply to her above letter.

Thank you Jeni for your input. We have discussed the pros and cons of continuing to move forward with the Levy. We are sensitive to the current economic situation in the US and locally. The financial needs of the district to provide a high quality education for our children have not diminished with the recent events related to COVID-19. If anything, the needs of our children and teachers will be even greater when school resumes. Your concerns have been noted.


Thomas G. Moore Superintendent

If the levy passes and all GFPS administrators receive a 2% raise, Mr. Moore will receive $3,200.

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

5 Replies to “Pedal To The Medal”



  2. Could the use of the all mail in ballots be used by the supporters of this school levy to get it passed? I would not put it past the supporters of the levy to harvest ballots. Some might consider it far fetched, but from the response of Tom Moore, it appears they are intending to go forward with the levy.


  3. How is it the Catholic schools here in town pay their teachers dramatically less and have a full staff without constantly raising the price of their tuition? Our public schools are filled with problems and somehow we, the taxpayers, are expected to keep rewarding these overpaid administrators.


  4. […] When asked by a constituent about the timing of pursuing yet another permanent tax increase on the public despite historic unemployment, Moore wrote to her: […]


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