GFPS Board of Trustees approves budget for 2018-2019 school year

Posted at 10:26 PM, Aug 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-21 00:26:22-04

The Great Falls Public School Board of Trustees on Monday evening unanimously approved the budget for the 2018-2019 school year.

The combined elementary and high school budgeted funds are anticipated to total about $90 million and the general fund consists of around $73 million of the total. Most of the teachers’ salaries are paid through the general fund.

This year’s budget included a 2% raise for teachers, which was negotiated as part of a two-year contract in 2017, according to Chairman Jan Cahill. The approved budget also included a 2% raise for administrator salaries.

Cahill said that although administrators are not represented by a union, pay increases for administrators often follow the raises negotiated by teachers and help offset rising costs for living.

"The raises are to help offset the increased costs for health insurance for all of our employees who take the health insurance. It’s to meet the inflation rate, the cost of living, of course, continues to go up, so the two percent is hopefully going to help all of our staff members meet the increased cost of living," he said.

Trustee Kim Skornogoski stated her support for administrator pay raises stems from what is asked of them. She said she attended armed intruder training last week and that in addition to buying school supplies and food, teachers are also asked to buy tourniquets.

"We are asking teachers and administrators that if someone comes in with an assault rifle and starts shooting at them, don’t stop running at the shooter even if you’ve been shot six or seven times," she said.

Trustee Teresa Schreiner said pay raises are a part of staying competitive in recruiting and retaining teachers.

"We want to have good principals, we want to have good administrators, we want to have good teachers," she said. 

Schreiner also noted that levies are a necessary part of the legislative system and the school’s funding.

"We have locally, purposefully designed budgets," she said. "And we’ve gone without for a very long time. We’ve been forced and necessitated for a very long time."

Schreiner also said the school has gone without funding, such as block grants, at the state level, which she said equated to more than $6 million. 

"When we talk about going without local or state support, we can’t talk about mismanagement," she said. "Our legislature has decided that it is designed within our budget that we get local and we get state support and we didn’t get it. We haven’t had it for a long time. It’s not mismanagement. It’s the designed system in the Montana code annotated that we have this support and we haven’t had it."

Cahill, Skornogoski, and Schreiner were the only trustees present at Monday’s meeting, although trustee Jeff Gray participated in the meeting via conference call. Trustees Ann Janikula, Jason Brantley, and Laura Vukasin were all excused.

Great Falls resident Cyndi Baker objected to the administrator raises, stating that school administrators receive benefits such as paid vacation and health insurance, while some community members do not. 

Cahill said taxpayers will see only a small increase in their property taxes.

"We try to do the best with we can by the money that is entrusted to us by the local taxpayers and in this particular case, we are able to have a very, very small increase, less than two dollars a year for a person with a house of $150,000," he said.

According to Cahill, the district currently employs 1,235 people. At 744, teachers make up the majority. There are also 93 custodians, 43 teacher/library aides, 29 principals, 30 medically-related staff, 10 psychologists, 12 tech specialists, eight warehouse employees, and 15 administrators in the district office building, among other staff.

Cahill said GFPS is the second largest school district in Montana, second only to Billings, with around 10,300 students. 

For the 10,300 students, the school year begins on Wednesday, August 29. 

div[data-mml-type=”relatedcategory”]{border: thin solid #e7e7e7;} .categories-right-icon{display: none;} .stories-area > hr{margin: 0px;} .stories-area > iframe {border: white;} div[data-mml-type]{ overflow: hidden; } div[data-mml-status=”draft”] {display: none !important;} div.fb-post span, div.fb-post span iframe{max-width: 100%;} div[data-mml-type=”twitter”].left, div[data-mml-type=”instagram”].left, div[data-mml-type=”facebook”].left{ float: left; position: relative; overflow:hidden; max-width:100%;}div[data-mml-type=”twitter”].right,div[data-mml-type=”instagram”].right,div[data-mml-type=”facebook”].right{ float: right; position: relative; overflow:hidden; max-width:100%;}div[data-mml-type=”twitter”].center,div[data-mml-type=”instagram”].center,div[data-mml-type=”facebook”].center{ width: 100% !important; overflow:hidden; text-align: center;}div[data-mml-type=”twitter”].center iframe,div[data-mml-type=”twitter”].center twitterwidget,div[data-mml-type=”instagram”].center iframe,div[data-mml-type=”facebook”].center iframe{ margin: auto !important;}div[data-mml-type=”facebook”].center > span{ margin: auto !important; display: block !important;} .mml-display-none{display: none !important;} div[data-mml-type=”gmaps”], div[data-mml-type=”youtube”] {position:relative; width:100%; padding-bottom:56.25%;} div[data-mml-type=”gmaps”] iframe, div[data-mml-type=”youtube”] iframe {position:absolute; left:0; top:0;} div[data-embed-type=”clip”],div[data-mml-type=”clip”]{position: relative;padding-bottom: 56.25%;width: 100%;box-sizing: border-box;} div[data-embed-type=”clip”] iframe { position: absolute;}div[data-embed-type=”social”] {position: relative;padding-bottom: 56.25%;width: 100%;box-sizing: border-box;} div[data-embed-type=”social”] iframe,div[data-mml-type=”clip”] iframe { position: absolute;}.frankly-img{max-width:100%;}.mce-item-table{word-break: break-all;}