A recent Facebook post lamented that not a single penny of the funds being requested via the Operational Levy goes to students. In a literal sense, I suppose that is true. GFPS has no plans to hand out taxpayers’ money directly to students. In a practical sense, the statement is completely inaccurate. Here’s why:

  • The bulk of the increase in resources required to roll over this year’s budget into next is the direct result of salary increases for GFPS staff.  All collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) have been settled for the 2018-2019 school year and all included an increase on base salaries and the maintenance of longevity factors.  Increases are also planned for staff not represented by CBAs as well.
  • I don’t have to tell any of you that education is a human resource intensive endeavor. Most GFPS employees work directly with students in our schools and classrooms.  The rest, including 18 District-level administrators and supervisors, support and/or lead those very same efforts.  In other words, the levy funds will be used for the people who are teaching, supporting and inspiring our studentsThe levy funds will be used to maintain programs that are taught, operated and managed by you.

Why did the District negotiate salary increases knowing that it would have budgetary impacts? Because there is no doubt in the minds of leadership that investments in our employees have a direct and positive impact on our students and their achievement.  Our belief statements drive how we act and this belief says it all:  Highly skilled and committed personnel are our greatest asset.  You can see all of the belief statements here: https://gfps.k12.mt.us/mission/.

The District anticipated that sacrifices may have to be made in order to balance the budget with the salary increases.  That reality was discussed at every negotiating table and at Cabinet meetings.  We are working hard to maintain excellence while facing the realities of limited resources.  I am hopeful that excellence will be maintained thanks to the 1500 full and part-time people, and another 400 substitute employees, who directly impact the learning of our students.  As I see it, the Operational Levy proceeds will be well spent.

Community. Unity. Opportunity.