GFPS continues investment in GFDA

The Great Falls Public Schools board voted unanimously during their Jan. 9 meeting to continue its investment in the Great Falls Development Authority.

The board had paid $7,500 annually for three years and voted to continue that contribution for the next three years.

The investment is paid from non-tax revenue sources in the revenue enhancement fund, that includes revenue generated from beverage sale receipts and other commercial lease sponsor agreement receipts, according to GFPS staff.

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“Funding for Great Falls Public Schools is largely dependent on per-pupil funding from the state equalization distribution formula which is driven by the number of students enrolled in the district. Economic diversification and job creation in Great Falls will, in turn, help to assure stable enrollment in district schools and the funds to maintain high quality educational opportunities in Great Falls,” according to the GFPS staff report.

GFPS Superintendent Tom Moore said that the previous agreement ended at the end of 2022 and told the board it’s a “beneficial partnership.”

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Moore said the district administration recommended continuing that contribution for another three years “because of some of the uncertainty right now.”

He said years ago the board and administrators discussed how to pay dues or membership to invest in economic development without using tax dollars and came up with the revenue enhancement fund option.

“The most effective ways for GFDA to achieve its mission is to work in partnership with other local and regional organizations, including educational institutions and agencies to tackle longstanding challenges and pursue new opportunities. By continuing the district’s support of local economic development, and continuing at the same level as in the past, the commitment can be spread over three years. The work of the Great Falls Development Authority is key to future community developments that will be beneficial to our schools,” according to the staff report.