Tuesday, April 19

Jan Cahill; Please Explain What Happened in White Pine County, NV in 1995

First and for the record, I don't have a dog in the East v. Paris closure fight. No matter which school is closed, my kids will have to get on a bus and go halfway across town.

That said, I now delve into a subject that I believe needs to be addressed before the Great Falls School Board election on May 3.

One of the candidates, Mr. Jan Cahill, was the Superintendent of Schools for White Pine County, Nevada in the early 1990s. During his tenure, a series of financial improprieties occurred (see the linked minutes of the Nevada State Senate Committee of Governmental Affairs for March 23, 1995 and April 10, 1995). These financial improprieties led to Mr. Cahill's resignation, and the eventual receivership of the White Pine County School District.

In a nutshell, it appears that Mr. Cahill recommended, and the White Pine County voters secured, an $8 Million bond for the construction of two buildings, a new high school and a new middle school. As work progressed, costs for the new high school soared to over $12 Million. By late Spring 1995, the State Legislature had to pass an emergency bill (S-1948, for $2.8 Million) for White Pine County so that they could meet payroll. The legislature also passed at least two bills to audit the finances of the White Pine County School District, and those audits found a shortfall of $3.5 Million.

Allegations also surfaced that Mr. Cahill and the Board of Trustees went to great lengths (closed School Board meetings, misleading statements, etc.) to hide the state of the School District's finances from the public.

Instead of bringing up the subject himself and explaining the situation, at the School Board Candidate debate tonight Mr. Cahill spoke of his leadership in cutting costs at White Pine County.

I don't pretend to know all the details here. Mr. Cahill may have been the one honest man in a tough situation. However, before we give him the power to vote on how our school funds will be used, he needs to explain his involvement in the financial receivership of the White Pine County School District in Nevada in the mid 1990s.


Leesa Halcro said...


Great questions about Cahill. I hear he nearly bankrupted Heart Butte during his tenure there. Employees in Heart Butte had payroll checks bounce after he has his hand in thier finances. Too bad he has people so snowed about the School Closure issue. We need educated, honest, experienced people on the board. The fact that the district will be closing elementary schools within 2-3 years makes this election about so much more than Cahill can imagine. Seems the Republican party wouldn't back him enough to get a legislative seat, so he's chosen the East closure as his political vehile.
Ever think about writing a letter to the editor before the election??? Might help inform voters what Cahill is really all about. Good questions for him...

Treasure State Jew said...


Thanks for the nice words. I am very concerned that Great Falls voters will make this an "East v. Paris" referendum. If we do that, we all lose.

We have some huge issues facing our School Board in the coming years. Whether we close Paris or East this Summer is only the tip of the iceberg.

I hope that you are wrong about elementary schools. However, the incoming kindergarten class is the smallest in 35 years. Not an encouraging sign, to say the least.

I did write a letter to the editor, early last week. The letter was a condensed version of the blog post above. The Tribune did not choose to print it.


Anonymous said...

I am interested in knowing more about the sources where you got the information regarding Heart Butte, and Nevada. Thanks!