EdNews photo of school kids

The vast majority of Idaho’s school districts plug their budgets with local property taxes, which creates a host of inequities, writes Idaho EdNews reporter Kevin Richert. One such gap hurts Idaho’s minority students, according to a new report.

“Students of color are more likely to live in communities with the most difficulty approving local education dollars,” the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy wrote.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank looked at the tax levy trend from a different angle: demographics. The group ran the numbers for “high-diversity” districts, where 15 percent of students are students of color, as opposed to low-diversity districts.

The findings:

Idaho’s 52 high-diversity districts collect fewer dollars from voter-approved supplemental property tax levies. These districts collect $623 per student. Idaho’s 63 low-diversity districts collect $1,429 per student.

The high-diversity districts have lower property values: $498,422 per student, compared to $1,188,595 per student in low-diversity districts.

And when it comes to property tax levies, district wealth is a big variable, Richert writes. Wealthier districts can levy at a lower tax rate, and still collect more tax dollars than poorer districts.

“To raise the same amount of revenue per student, districts with 15 percent or more students of color would need to vote to raise their property taxes by more than twice the rate necessary for districts with fewer students of color,” the report said. You can read Richert's full report here at idahoednews.org.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

Load comments