GREAT FALLS- Great Falls Public Schools is asking for your help on next year's school budget; it's a conversation they say needs to happen now.
The school system is struggling to make ends meet.
Budget cuts and funding have taken a toll on the classroom and to put it simply, there aren't any more corners to cut.
In the end, your child's education is what's at stake.
“It's starting to take its toll on student achievement and our desired outcome,” explains Tom Moore, GFPS Superintendent.
“It's vitally important the community understands the needs of the school district in relationship to our budget,” further explains Jan Cahill, GFPS Chairman of the Board of Trustees.
The generosity of the community didn't go unnoticed a few years ago after a nearly $100 million dollar bond was passed for new school construction.
Now however, something else is on the line.
“Now we need to have people realize, in addition to the infrastructure needs, we have the human needs,” says Cahill.
These human needs range from such as school supplies, teachers, administrative staff, utilities, etc.
Over the past 12 years, only 2 levy's have been passed, forcing the school district to make some cuts.
“We've seen a decrease in the amount of teachers by about one hundred and two over the last 10 years,” explains Cahill.
However, making so many sacrifices might have been the wrong thing to do.
“The school has done probably too good of job of making it work. You know, we've increased class sizes; we've cut some programs that were minor. There haven't been real painful cuts that have been observed,” explains Brian Patrick, Director of Business Operations.
Now, without the taxpayers help, those hard hitting cuts will happen.
The state determines how much each district needs to operate; and for GFPS, that number is $70 million.
That's just to cover teacher salaries, buildings costs and supplies to name a few.
“It's extremely important for people to realize that we do live within the means. We do live within our budget,” says Cahill.
Right now, Great Falls still needs $1.3 million for grades K - 8; and $50,000 for grades 9-12.
While the population of our city hasn’t increased a whole lot, the price tag to run a classroom has, creating another problem.
“The community wants that full gambit of programming and so that costs money,” says Moore.
“We want to hire the best and brightest here in Great Falls and we're not able to do that if our salary schedules for teachers can't keep up,” explains Patrick.
If you missed tonight’s meeting, there will be another one November 25th at Great Falls High School’s new hub.
This meeting is to determine whether or not they'll ask the community to pass another levy.