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BOISE — Following Idaho’s election consolidation law update in 2013, all school districts were forced to hold elections on the dates allowed for other taxing districts.

However, three Idaho districts were exempt from the law, as their charters predate statehood. Some districts chose to conform to the law nonetheless.

Boise, Emmett and Lewiston are Idaho’s three charter districts, and all but Boise are in line with the state’s election consolidation law.

Outgoing Boise School District Superintendent Don Coberly previously said the district’s Sept. 4 election date is specified in the charter, thus it cannot be changed.

However, a provision in Idaho law does allow districts to change their charters.

The Idaho Press was unable to reach Coberly after repeated attempts to contact him.

In section eight of Idaho code 33-5206, a district can enter into negotiations regarding its charter at any time.

The Emmett School District had no issues changing its election date to fall in line with state law, but the election date was not specified in its charter, Superintendent Wayne Rush told the Idaho Press.

Lewiston’s charter did previously specify its elections should be held on the second Tuesday in April on odd years, but it was able to change that, Lewiston School District Assistant Superintendent Lance Hansen said.

“To be honest with you, we took advice from our counsel,” he said.

Following a presentation from legal counsel, the district decided to amend its charter to get in line with state law, he said.

Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane previously told the Idaho Press that school district elections are often seen as “friends and family elections” because of the low turnout.

According to previous Idaho Press reports, the Boise School District’s turnout for the 2018 school board election was 5,080, roughly 4 percent of its total electorate of 103,864.

The election prior to that, roughly 6 percent of the electorate participated, a total of 6,196 district residents, according to district election records.

In 2010, only 1.5 percent of voters in the district turned out, totaling 1,581.

“They, in theory, could open the charter and try to change it,” McGrane said previously.

Additionally, if the Boise School District were to fall in line with state election law, the district could use county election services at no cost.

In the 2018 school board election, the district spent $69,352 on the election.

Xavier Ward covers Ada County for The Idaho Press. You can follow him on Twitter at @XavierAWard.

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