March 16, 2015
Issue No: 


Superintendent’s Message



           I will be setting forth several proposals regarding next school year’s budget this Thursday at the final community budget meeting.  See related Newsbits article for an invitation to attend along with time and place information.  The discussions have been easier this year than other legislative years due to the fact that the legislature has passed and the Governor has already signed HB27 that provides for inflationary increases over the biennium. This happening is historic because the main component of educational funding is known early in the session and it contained increases.  For GFPS, it contained an increase of $1.88 million.  That’s a good chunk of money and the District is very thankful for it.  But here’s the depressing part:  37% of it is estimated to go to pay for health insurance premium increases.

            My very cloudy crystal ball is estimating a 10% increase in health insurance premiums.  The District’s general fund increase for just this one thing is estimated at $694,000.  This is money that will not be used to hire additional staff to support learning, or for raises for our hardworking employees, or for purchasing much needed technology enhancements, or for our aging facilities.  This is money that will be paid out for never-ending increases in health insurance claims.  It’s not like Cigna is getting the money.  Currently, the health insurance plan is overspending by 9% as claims outpace premiums.  This has been the case year after year.  Something has to give!

            We cannot control what doctors and hospitals charge.  We cannot control the increasing costs of medical procedures.  The one and only thing we can control is our health and thus our health insurance claims.  The healthier we are as a group, the fewer number of claims the plan will have to pay.  I know that things happen.  People get sick or have accidents, and they absolutely must have care and that’s what health insurance is for.  But prevention and taking a close look at personal health can go a long way to avoiding costly acute health issues.

            A good first step is to take the Health Risk Assessment being offered by your GFPS Wellness Team.  By answering a few questions, you will get a snapshot of your personal health status.  That’s the easy, but essential part.  The next step requires you to look inward once you get those results.  What are they telling you? Is your weight putting you at risk?  Are your eating habits contributing to ill health?  Is your lack of exercise a problem?  Is alcohol or tobacco a risk factor?  If every person improved their health via an honest look at the assessment results followed by some personal action, we could collectively gain control of the one thing that really matters:  our health. 

            I ask you to see your building’s Wellness Coordinator today to see how to take the assessment.  Something has to give.  Maybe a concerted health effort could give us the return on investment we so desperately need.


Take care.  Stay safe.  Be well.




 The Board Budget Committee has been conducting community meetings regarding the 2015-2016 budget for over a month.  The final meeting is on Thursday.  Superintendent Lacey will set forth several funding options and the Committee will deliberate after public comment.  All staff members are invited to add their voice to the debate.  The meeting is Thursday, March 19, 5:30-7:00 pm, in the cafeteria of PGEC.

Staff Facility Invitation


FACT:  The average age of all GFPS school buildings is 57 years old.
FACT:  All school buildings are in need of infrastructure repair.
FACT:  80 GFPS elementary classrooms exceed Montana class size standards.
FACT:  GFPS enrollment is projected to increase over the next 10 years.
FACT:  The need for technology enhancements further strains infrastructure.
You’re invited!
District administration and the Board of Trustees invite you to attend informational meetings in order to understand and discuss FACILITY RELATED ISSUES.  While meetings are held at selected sites, concerns will be discussed regarding ALL schools.
Please mark your calendars!


WHAT:       Community/Staff Informational Meetings for Ideas to Address Facility Concerns
                  Wednesday, March 25, 5:30-7:30 pm , GFHS Auditorium
Tours at 4:30, 4:45 & 5:00
Tours start from the Main Campus Office: 1900 2nd           Ave. S.
AGENDA:  Same agenda for all meetings.  

The Outreach and Community Enrichment Program at GFC-MSU Needs Input

You could win a free course worth up to $165!

The Outreach and Community Enrichment Program (previously known as the GFPS Nitecap Program) is a joint project between the GFC-MSU and GFPS Adult Education. The new director, Teresa Rivenes, is working to increase enrollment and the number of course offerings in order to meet the lifelong learning needs of Great Falls and the surrounding communities. Courses are currently offered not only at GFC-MSU, but also in several of our classrooms throughout GFPS.
GFPS staff feedback is crucial to growing the program, so please take a few moments to complete a short survey at . The information you provide will help plan future offerings. Once you complete the survey, if you provide your contact information at the end of the survey, you will be entered into a drawing for a FREE Outreach/Community Education course valued at up to $165.
Teresa may be reached at: Teresa [dot] rivenes [at] gfcmsu [dot] edu, 406.771.2290 or at the Great Falls College Outreach Office.




Teacher time sheets are due in the Business Office the morning of Thursday, March 12th.  Please e-mail your absences to BoPayrollLead [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us each day through March 20th.  If you know in advance a teacher is going to be gone, please mark it on the time sheet rather than waiting to email.  Teachers who use time cards should also turn them in at this time. 
All other time cards are due in the Business Office the morning of Tuesday, March 24th.
Substitute teacher time sheets are due by the 2nd of each month.
All time cards are due on the above dates.  Do not put them in the school mail any later, as it will be impossible to pay them on this pay period.   All time cards must be signed by the employee before pay checks will be released.
All federal time cards are due to federal programs office two days before the dates listed above.
Secretaries, please review your time card check-off list and be sure all employees have turned in their time cards
Any employee terminating their employment with the district must send their timecard to the business office immediately upon termination (DO NOT wait for the end of the pay period).  If the employee will be terminating shortly after the end of the pay period those days can be added to the current time card.

Call for PIR Facilitators for the 2015-2016 School Year

Call for PIR Facilitators for the 2015-2016 School Year
Dear Teachers and Administrators:
If you are interested in offering a PIR class for next year, please fill out and submit a proposal form.
· The date range is June 15, 2015 - April 30, 2016.
· All forms are due in to the Curriculum Office by Friday, March 27, 2015.
· Please be sure to avoid any holidays as well as MEA days and Wednesdays when scheduling your dates.
· PIR Sessions can be done as a single 6-hour, two 3-hour, or three 2-hour blocks.
Open and fill out the PIR Proposal Form and email to Theda Shaulis at theda_shaulis [at] gfps [dot] k12 [dot] mt [dot] us or send hardcopy via interschool mail to the Curriculum Office. For more information about PIR Facilitator Obligations and Pay, please visit the following link:


You’re Invited to WarFair!

 On Thursday, April 9, GFHS again is presenting our interdisciplinary performance fair, War Fair!  As you know, War Fair! concerns topics extending far beyond war; students may present on the “war” against drugs, disease, advertising “wars,” etc.   Two sessions are offered, the first from 8-11:30 and the second from 12:30-2:30.  You are welcome to attend either or both.

We hope you and your students will make the trip to GFHS to see what it’s all about and to enjoy the presentations.  Students work hard on them and become very polished and proud.  The projects are very enjoyable.  Hope to see you here!


Join the Fun! It’s FREE!
Come and interact with over 200 science, technology, engineering, art, and math student projects.
40 community groups will also share information and provide hands-on activities!

Hope to see you at the STEAM EXPO 2015 to see the amazing inquiry work presented by our GFPS PreK-12 students.
April 11, 2015 10:00 AM-2:00 PM
Great Falls High Fieldhouse