Please describe your experiences and connection to Great Falls Public Schools.
I am coming to the end of a three-year term as a GFPS Board Trustee. During the time I have been on the Board I have served on the Policy Committee, Safe, Healthy and Secure Schools Committee, the Calendar Committee and the Transportation Committee. I am currently Vice-Chair of the Board. I have attended the Montana Council for Educational Leadership for each of the past three years. My wife, who will retire at the end of this year has taught orchestra for 25 years in the GFPS system and our two boys, Max and Alex, attended Sunnyside (where I was part of the Parent Participation Program), East and GFHS. I served as Music Director of the Great Falls Symphony for 35 years and worked closely with GFPS administration in developing live matinee performances for youth.
What do you see as the most challenging issue facing Great Falls Public Schools at this time? What successes do you see in the programs and teaching delivered through Great Falls Public Schools?
We are coming out of two years of a world-wide pandemic. The GFPS has worked arduously to keep our kids and teachers safe while providing instruction remotely. The outcome, however, has been a loss in face-to-face instruction. There will need to be concerted remediation in order to enable students to gain erudition lost during the time of shut down and remote instruction. This is an immediate challenge that needs to address.
Also, the GFPS needs to be aggressive in finding, hiring and retaining talented teaching staff. Doing so has been made more difficult due to challenging teaching conditions and low pay. Challenges and opportunities abound!
Even though COVID has been devastating, there has been relief in the form of ESSER money. This funding has enabled the schools to replace antiquated HVAC systems, engage school nurses in buildings, distribute sanitation supplies, install safety equipment, the acquisition of Chrome Books, playground improvement and much, much more.
There have many, many successes. All due to the commitment and involvement of a remarkable team of administrators and teachers. Just to list a few, the High School House, the development of a new ELA curriculum, security cameras at each school, new playgrounds (Meadowlark and Longfellow), the Career and College Readiness Program Enrollment Program, the ROTC program, the alternative high school (PGEA) program, the McKinney-Vento Services to identify homeless students, the GFPS Foundation the list goes on and on. We need to celebrate our accomplishments!
The Board’s main purpose is to provide governance over the District to ensure that students have ample opportunity to achieve their individual and collective learning needs.
This requires a trustee serving as an emissary for the GFPS: being present at community events, listening to citizens, spreading the good word of the tremendous service the GFPS provides to our community.