Oakland family donates $500k for career and technical education center equipment

A local family has donated $500,000 to Great Falls Public Schools for the purchase of new equipment in the automotive, welding and woodworking classrooms in the new career and technical education center at Great Falls High.

During Monday’s school board meeting, Bob Oakland and his family were thanked for their donation and the board voted unanimously to put signage on the building that states “CTE Center supported by the Oakland family.”

The facility was part of the $98.8 million facilities bond levy in approved by voters in 2016 and according to Dave Crum, director of the GFPS Foundation, that has lead to a number of community members making significant donations to further enhance the buildings and remodels.

The donation brings the family’s total contributions since 2011 to $1.5 million and has also provide a truck for the annual GFPS truck raffle. The Oakland family owns City Motors.

Andrew Davidson, of D.A. Davidson and chair of the GFPS Foundation, said the donation will help students who may not be pursuing a four-year college program by giving them the skills they need to enter the workforce in Great Falls. He said donors understand the importance in investing in the entire educational process.

GFPS board member Kim Skornogoski said the majority of students in the CTE programs graduate and the donation would contribute to their success.

Bob Oakland’s daughter, Leslie, had been active in the community and served on the foundation board until her death in December 2018.

It was “extraordinary,” said Linda Caricaburu, former foundation chair, that as the family is still grieving that loss, “they are thinking of others.”

Administrators and teachers from Great Falls High thanked the Oakland family for their donation, which would change students’ lives, they said.

Jason Brantley, a GFPS board member, thanked the Oakland family and the others who have recently made significant donations for the soccer field at Memorial Stadium, Giant Springs Elementary School media center, the CMR fitness and STEM centers and the GFH auditorium.

“It’s phenomenal the amount of generosity we have in this community,” Brantley said.

To the Oakland family, Brantley said, “you’re a pillar of the community and we’ll be honored to have your name on the side of the building.”

During Monday’s meeting, Bob Oakland said, “we are thrilled to be able to be part of this community. I wouldn’t want to love anywhere else in the world. We are so pleased that we are able to giveback to it.”