Budget Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question that isn't answered below? Contact our board and they will get you an answer.

Information provided at the Community Budget Meeting, March 3, 2014

Question: What % do the businesses in Great Falls pay in comparison to residential property owners?

Answer: We are working with the county to obtain the percentages. Once we have the information, it will be posted on the school website. It will be more difficult to create an easy to use calculator because there are 16 different classifications for Business Properties

Question: How much room does our district have to grow to get to the 100%? (100% is also referred to as the maximum budget allowed by the State – for background information please refer to the January 9th information on School Funding )

Answer: Elementary $1,908,418.39
            High School $ 421,948.71

Question: How does Great Falls compare to the other AA Districts other than mills levied?
It is important to note that in school funding the items listed below all have an impact on State contributions.
• Equity Status
• Taxable Valuation – Guaranteed Tax Base Aid

AA School Information 2012-2013 Elementary
  Equity Status                  Taxable Valuation
• Bozeman            100%                               124,859,611
• Butte                  100%                                 50,650,850
• Billings                 98.81%                           176,069,203
• Great Falls           96.73%                           112,977,660
• Helena                100%                                 88,818,771
• Kalispell                94.91%                            52,886,368
• Missoula              100%                               106,045,274

AA School Information 2012-2013 High School

                        Equity Status                    Taxable Valuation
• Bozeman            100%                                148,311,838
• Butte                  106.42%                             56,158,247
• Billings                 99.58%                            235,345,707
• Great Falls           99.49%                            117,886,258
• Helena                100%                                110,845,060
• Kalispell               94.25%                            121,374,818
• Missoula              100.44%                           181,892,508

Enrollment - General Fund Budget Amount
AA School Information 2012-2013 K-12 Enrollment & General Fund Budget

                        K-12 Enrollment              General Fund Budget
• Bozeman            5,973                               $38,142,978
• Butte                 4,468                                $28,782,146
• Billings              16,486                              $104,789,908
• Great Falls        10,510                                $63,687,032
• Helena               8,300                                $53,368,515
• Kalispell              5,909                                $35,576,917
• Missoula             8,811                                $58,969,547

Questions from Audience: Community Budget Meeting, February 6, 2014
Answered at the Community Budget Meeting, February 20, 2014

Question: How much extra is the District paying for homeless students?

Answer: As presented by the Director of Student Services Dale Lambert, the District receives some federal funding through Title X. In 2013 that amount was $33,391. In 2014, it is $21,295 with the reduction being due to sequestration. This amount does not cover all costs so in addition, the District spends approximately $31,550 from the federal Title IA allocation and another $10,000 from the general fund. The GFPS Foundation also provides funding for homeless students on a case by case basis as presented by the Homeless Coordinators. The combination of these funds pays for salaries/benefits for the Homeless Coordinators, supplies and student support.

There may also additional transportation costs as the McKinney-Vento law requires that homeless students be transported to their original school no matter where they are living. The current bus routes are able to accommodate these students at this time.

Question: Is Great Falls higher in poverty families than other schools?

Answer: Yes. See below for the 2012-2013 K-8 AA district data.










Question: How much of the general fund goes to sports and music?

Athletics = $1,262,365
Amount includes expenses for salaries, supplies, technical services and team travel

Music = $1,651,070
Amount includes expenses for salaries, professional development, supplies, equipment, equipment repair and programs.


Questions from Audience: Community Budget Meeting, January 20, 2014

Question: How many students are dependents of military parents?

Answer: As of fall, 2013:
594 students are dependents of active duty and live on the base
425 students are dependents of active duty and live off of the base
Total: 1019
272 students are dependents of civilians working on the base
Total: 1291 students or 12.5% of all students

Question: Aren’t some teachers paid out of other funds besides the general fund?

Answer: Yes.

Teachers are paid out of several funds to include: specific purpose grants, special education, Title I, Title III, Title VII, IDEA, Adult Education, Medicaid Reserve Fund, Indirect Cost Reserve Fund, Impact Aid Reserve Fund.

# of full-time equivalent (FTE) paid out of general fund: 657 FTE
# of FTE paid out of other funds as noted above: 96 FTE
Total teacher FTE: 753 FTE

Question: What is the ratio of all staff (except substitute employees) to pupils?

Answer: All staff = teachers, administrators, supervisors, aides, paraeducators, lifeguards, accompanists, crossing guards, laundress, test proctors, tutors, engineers/custodians, groundsmen, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech therapists, nurses, school psychologists, data technicians, prevention specialists, administrative assistants, business office technicians, carpenters, painters, electricians, plumbers, coaches and warehouse truck drivers.

1325.5 Full-Time Equivalence (FTE) or 1546 People
10, 315 students

Ratio: 10,315 students ÷ 1325.463 FTE = 7.8 students per all staff FTE
10,315 students ÷ 1546 people = 6.7 students per all staff people

Question: What have kindergarten enrollment numbers been in the past?

2002-2003 766
2003-2004 798
2004-2005 808
2005-2006 793
2006-2007 800
2007-2008 802
2008-2009 812
2009-2010 851
2010-2011 884
2011-2012 851
2012-2013 865
2013-2014 862

2014 870
2015 865
2016 899
2017 859
2018 860
2019 860

Question: Now that the District has purchased Common Core, will this help with how kids are doing in the area of math?

The District did not purchase Common Core. The Common Core is a set of standards that were adopted by the Montana Board of Public Education. You can read more about the Montana Common Core Standards for Mathematical Content and Practice at this website: http://opi.mt.gov/Curriculum/montCAS/MCCS/index.php?gpm=1_4. This is another website to refer to: http://opi.mt.gov/PDF/CCSSO/13July-Myths-vs-Facts.pdf

The District did write locally developed and School Board adopted math curriculum that is based on the Montana Common Core Standards for Mathematical Content and Practice. The GFPS math curriculum can be found at this website: http://www.gfps.k12.mt.us/content/mathematics

The District did purchase new math materials in 2012 that were carefully selected by local teachers and staff members. Teachers have received professional development in utilizing the new curriculum and materials.

As the District contemplates the implementation of any curricular changes and the purchase of materials and textbooks, it always does so with the sole purpose of increasing student achievement. The District seeks to improve student achievement in math and made the curricular changes and purchases with that goal in mind.

Question: Since the District is requiring 3 more credits for graduation than the state requires, what is the financial implication of these 3 extra credits?

GFPS has a mission to prepare students to successfully navigate their future. Our district aspires to graduate students who are college, career and citizenship ready. The demands of the 21st century workplace require a high level of understanding and competence in math, science, literacy, communication, healthy lifestyle choices and civic/cultural awareness. Our graduation requirements reflect that mission. GFPS is currently reviewing its graduation requirements and the measured success in accomplishing the mission set forth by the GFPS Board. GFPS currently differs in some of the state graduation requirements. Those are noted here which results in a net of 3 additional credits required by GFPS:

GFPS Montana
3 credits math 2 credits math
3 credits science 2 credits science
3 credits social studies 2 credits of social studies
2 credits Health/PE 1 credit of H/PE
6 elective credits 7 elective credits

GFPS recognizes that there are additional costs associated with providing a comprehensive educational program that prepares students for college, career and citizenship. GFPS estimates those costs to be $750,000 per year based on the following assumptions:

A teacher salary + benefits = $50,000
25 students /section
3000 9-12 students/ year
Average class period costs $50,000 ÷ 6 = $8333
Average class period per student costs = $8333 ÷ 25 = $333
3000 students need 3 additional sections over 4 years

Total estimated additional costs:
$333/student/section x 3 additional sections = $1,000/student x 3000 students= $3,000,000 over the 4 years OR $750,000/year

This is an estimate as the true cost depends on the actual salaries of the teachers, the actual number of students in the sections and other associated costs like textbooks and materials.

Question: What is the number of properties that the District has that do not have buildings on them. Can they be sold? Please provide a list of properties.

The District owns 7 properties that have not been built on. Those include:
1. 20 acres north of Skyline School
2. 1.12 acres across the street from Skyline School
3. *40 acres near the Ayrshire Dairy
4. *10 acres in Rancho Grand Vista
5. 1 acre near Marony Dam
6. *1.63 acres near Mountain View Elementary School
7. 10 acres near Loy Elementary School
District properties can be sold. According to state law, the properties must be declared as surplus via Board action and public notice for two weeks. Those properties with an * next to them have been through the surplus process and would be available for sale.

Questions from Audience: Community Budget Meeting, January 9, 2014
Answered at the Community Budget Meeting, January 20, 2014


Question: How many teachers have been cut due to levy failure? How many cut due to enrollment changes? Weren’t some cut due to ARRA (Stimulus)?

Answer: This chart shows the reductions of teachers since 2008. The reductions have been due to a combination of factors: lack of resources due to levy failure, lack of resources due to no levy being run, decreased enrollment overall and decreased enrollment in particular subjects or classes. Some teaching positions were hired with the stimulus (ARRA) money (15), some teaching positions were abandoned (7.5), and some were maintained after the ARRA money was expended because the positions had a positive impact on learning (7.5).


Question: What is the percentage of salaries in the General Fund? What is the percentage of salaries and benefits in the General Fund?

Answer: Total salaries paid out of the General Fund =$49,509,399
% of total salaries of the General Fund =$49,509,399 ÷ $64,691,564 = 76.5%

Total salaries/benefits paid out of the General Fund =$53,468,871
% of total salaries/benefits of the General Fund =$53,468,871 ÷ $64,691,564 = 82.7%


Question: What are the ratios of administrators to educators to pupils?

Answer: The District has 3 categories of “administrators”. The ratio for each category is as

1. District Administrators =14 people (1 Superintendent, 2 Assistant Superintendents, 1 Director of Business Operations, 1 Human Resources Director, 1 Director of Student Services (SpecEd/Federal), 1 Director of Instructional Technology, 1 Director of Curriculum and Instruction, 1 Coordinator of H/PE/Athletics/DriversEd, 1 Coordinator of Music w/Art, 1 Coordinator of Indian Education, 2 Coordinators of Student Services, and 1 Coordinator of Early Childhood)

Ratio of District Administrators to teachers—
761 teachers ÷ 14 District Administrators = 54:1
Ratio of District Administrators to all staff—
1546 staff members ÷ 14 District Administrators = 110:1
Ratio of District Administrators to all students—
10,315 students ÷ 14 District Administrators =737:1

2. District Supervisors = 7 people (1 Director of Buildings & Grounds, 1 Assistant Director of Building & Grounds, 1 Supervisor of Data Processing, 1 Supervisor of Food Services, 1 Assistant Field Supervisor of Food Services, 1 Supervisor of Support Services/Transportation, and 1 Supervisor of Central Reception/Print Center)

Ratio of Supervisors to classified staff–
756 classified staff ÷ 7 District Supervisors = 108:1
Ratio of Supervisors to all staff—
1546 staff members ÷ 7District Supervisors = 221:1
Ratio of Supervisors to all students—
10,315students ÷ 7District Supervisors = 1474:1

3. Principals = 28 people (2 High School Principals, 6 High School Associate Principals, 1 Alternative High School Principal/Adult Ed Coordinator, 2 Middle School Principals, 2 Middle School Associate Principals, and 15 Elementary Principals) Principals are required as per 10.55.705(c) ARM.


Request: Please provide calculations of administrator salaries regarding the general fund.


- All 49 District Administrators, District Supervisors and Principal Salaries Total = $4,246,793 (but not all salaries are paid out of the general fund)

Administrative and Supervisor Salaries paid from the General Fund = $3,749,240
(or 88.3% of administrative salaries are paid out of general fund, 11.7% of administrator salaries are paid out of other funds)

Benefits = 7.4% of $3,749,240 = $277,443

Salaries % of General Fund = $3,749,240 ÷ $64,691,564 = 5.8%
Salary % of General Fund by person =5.8% ÷ 49 = .12% per person
Salaries/Benefits of General Fund =$3,749,240 + $277,443 = $4,026,683 ÷ $64,691,564 =6.2%
Salary/Benefits of General Fund by person =6.2% ÷ 49 = .13% per person

- Utilizing the 3 categories of administrators as delineated in Question #2:

1. District Administrators: Total Salaries = $1,306,117
Total salary out of general fund = $1,306,117 x 88.3% =$1,153,301
Salaries % of general fund = $1,153,301 ÷ $64,691,564= 1.8%
Salary % of General Fund by person = 1.8% ÷ 14 people =.13% per person

2. District Supervisors: Total Salaries = $413,774
Total salary out of general fund = $413,774 x 88.3% = $365,362
Salaries % of general fund = $365,362 ÷ $64,691,564 =.56%
Salary % of General Fund by person = .56% ÷ 7 people = .08% per person

3. Principals: Total Salaries = $2,526,902
Total salary out of general fund = $2,526,902 x 88.3% = $2,231,254
Salaries % of general fund = $2,231,251 ÷ $64,691,564 =3.4%
Salary % of General Fund by person = 3.4% ÷ 28 people = .12% per person