Great Falls Public Schools is holding a Big Celebration and You’re Invited!  Trustee Board Chair Gordon Johnson and Superintendent of Great Falls Public School Tom Moore give all the details.


Chairman Johnson: Great Falls community has long taken pride in our schools, and the facilities are a large part of what makes our schools a source of pride. Just like in your home, updates and renovations are conducive to living and functionality, and in this case, updating our schools are conducive to addressing how students learn. The outcome of the 2016 Facilities Bond project was a stunning success and we want to reach out to our community and thank them for their support to show them what we consider to be a lasting monument to the quality of life in our community.

Celebration Details:

Superintendent Moore: Monday evening, May 1st, beginning at 5:30 PM in the Great Falls High School, Davidson Auditorium, we're going to assemble school district officials and community partners, contractors, vendors and design teams and say thank you to this community for passing close to a hundred million bond issue in 2016. Then we're going to showcase the great work that's taken place as a result of that bond effort over the last five years, six years, and show some concrete examples of the construction that's taken place, the bricks and mortar, and the infrastructure. Then we are going to move over to CMR to the Bill Williamson auditorium, and we are going to meet there at 7:00 PM and have a celebration there as well. So, again, highlighting the great efforts of our local contractors and subcontractors, design teams, et cetera. And then saying thank you to the voters and to the folks who helped get that bond issue passed. There were a lot of volunteers that worked across the community to inform and educate and help the voters understand what this money was going to be spent on. It is part of the Great Falls Public Schools Community Forum series, and this will be the last of that series for the year. Also, to let everyone know that throughout the month of May in each of our elementary schools and middle schools, there will also be some open houses taking place, and those will be in conjunction with concerts at the schools or parent nights and end of year kinds of celebrations. So the elementary and middle schools will also have open houses throughout the month of May.

Who is invited to this:

Chairman Johnson: The public is invited to this and we really encourage them to come and see what's been done. There's so many people that have gone to these schools, attended these schools at some point in time and they really should come by and see what dramatic changes have taken place in the overall footprint of the building and how they have been developed into more contemporary learning spaces. I would encourage anybody who's got kids in school or went to school or have kids that are going to go to school, come and check it out. It's a wonderful opportunity to learn more about what's happened.

Connection with the Community:

Chairman Johnson: Our buildings define our community. Our school buildings, they're gathering places, they are places where memories are built. They are places where friendships are forged that impacts every single one of us. And we need to celebrate and participate, not only what's happened during this bond project, but also sort of, projecting into the future somewhat, how are we going to utilize these facilities to our best extent.

Anonymous donation to CMR’s Bill Williamson Hall:

Chairman Johnson: Let's back up a step, I mean, the renovation done to the Great Falls High School auditorium through the Davidson family has been a tremendous move forward. It has put that facility on the map. For us as a school district, to have a performing venue of that quality is astounding. Now we look at CMR, and when you walk in there, I dare say it's not too bad, but it is 50 years old, it is somewhat tired. There's a lot of things that are worthy of renovation, and we are very grateful to this donor who recognized that and enables us to bring that up to pretty much the same standard that we've come to enjoy with the Great Falls High School auditorium.

Public- Private Partnerships:

Superintendent Moore: The voters approved the hundred million dollar bond issue, interest rates were great at that time. When we sold the bonds, we were able to capitalize on the market at that time and that also provided bond premium money. So an additional 10 or 11 million was added to that total. We were able to do much more work than what we had originally envisioned, and then the private sector stepped in. Since 2016 to today the Great Falls Public Schools Foundation has helped with donors enhance the public commitment, here on the private side, to the tune of close to $5 million in private money that's come in to enhance the facilities in conjunction with these bond projects. When you talk about a community partnership, first of all the community that got around the notion that we needed to do some things with these buildings that averaged 65 years of age and we hadn't passed a major facilities bond issue for 40 years, the community rallied together and it was decisive. The vote was decisive to invest in these facilities for our children and for our future. Then the private sector stepping in with their own pocketbooks and families and individuals and entities coming forth and saying we want to invest as well in the future and enhance these facilities. It has been truly a community effort as you work with the Chamber of Commerce, the Great Falls Development Authority, United Way and the other entities in our community, there's a strong link between strong schools, healthy schools, modern and current facilities that are healthy for the students.

Photo Credit Randy Bogden
Photo Credit Randy Bogden

Superintendent Moore: The faculty working in there and our local economy, they go hand in glove. Strong schools is a strong economy and a strong economy, lends itself to supporting schools. We have had some heavy lifts here in Great Falls over the years, but this is one thing that our community has stepped up to in the last five or six years and said, this is important to us. I appreciate that as the superintendent, it's been an honor to work on a team that has managed and facilitated this. We've got great stewardship in our district offices and our trustees overseeing these projects with some duty and responsibility of the public trust. It has been a great community effort.

Photo Credit Randy Bogden
Photo Credit Randy Bogden

Great Falls School District Board of Trustees Election

Superintendent Moore: I want to remind voters that we have three trustee seats open on the Great Falls School District Board of Trustees. Ballots were dropped on April 17 in the mail for absentee voters. If you have not received a ballot in the mail and you think you should have, then you need to contact the Elections Cascade County Elections Office. I would recommend that you go down there in person. If you have not seen a ballot on in your mailbox yet, go down to the elections office and pick up a ballot, make sure you're registered. You can do that between now and end of day on Monday, May 1st at the Cascade County Elections Office downtown. Then on May 2nd, which is Elections Day, if you still have not received a ballot yet or you haven't voted, you can go over to the Montana ExpoPark Exhibition Hall. It begins at 7:00 AM in the morning and goes until 8:00 PM on Tuesday May 2nd. You can vote there, and I encourage all registered voters within the school district boundaries and precincts to pay attention to that. If you have not received a ballot and you think you should have, go down to the elections office and ask for one.

If you have a story idea or something you want to learn more about, give Randy a call at 406-788-3003 or send me an email at

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