There’s a lot on the line Tuesday for schools.
In Canyon County alone, four school districts are seeking supplemental levies.
Don’t let the word “supplemental” fool you. These are not wish list items.
In Nampa, for example, 36 teacher salaries and critical repairs, such as leaking roofs, depend on this funding.
In a better world, state funding would cover these necessary expenses so that “supplemental” levies truly could be supplemental. But that’s not the world we live in yet.
In the meantime, please get out and vote Tuesday and support your local schools. Even if you don’t have kids in school, remember that a strong education system is the foundation of a strong society. Your future doctor could be in one of those classrooms, or accountant or home builder. Or you may get a job one day at a tech company that expanded to Idaho. Without a strong school system, companies would hesitate take a chance on the Treasure Valley, not only because it hurts their recruitment prospects, but because their staff members will want to know there are good schools before uprooting their family to transfer here.
It may be easy to give in to voter fatigue and check no on your school district’s levy or ignore the election altogether. But as a community, it’s vital for us to come together and support schools. We hope to see more urgency and creativity at the state level for finding better funding sources for schools and reduce the reliance on property taxes, but until that day comes, let’s do all that we can at the local level.
We appreciate Gov. Brad Little’s push for investment in early literacy education and to increase teacher pay. But the increase to the K-12 education budget this year is on course to be the smallest increase in six years. You may applaud the Legislature for its conservative spending, but it comes at a price. If state funding for public schools were adequate, a third of school districts in Idaho would not be seeking supplemental levies Tuesday.
Polls will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Find your polling place at idahovotes.gov. You can also vote early at the Canyon County Election’s Office, 1102 E. Chicago St. in Caldwell, through 5 p.m. Friday.
n Nampa School District: $12.9 million a year for two years.
Most of the funding would go toward building repairs, staff salaries and curriculum.
The district’s current levy, which expires in June, funds 36 teacher salaries and nine administrators.
The district’s current tax levy rate is $399 per $100,000 of taxable property value. The proposed levy rate, including the supplemental levy, would be $335 per $100,000 of taxable value; it’s lower because the district plans to reduce its bond payments so taxpayers don’t face a tax hike.
n Caldwell School District: $4.1 million a year for two years.
The levy would support extracurricular activities, preserve class sizes and make up for lost state funding as enrollment shifts to new charter schools.
If the levy passes, the district plans to keep its overall property tax levy rate at $366 per $100,000, in part by lowering bond payments.
n Vallivue School District: $4.5 million a year for two years.
The levy will go toward kindergarten and support staff salaries, extracurricular activities, and textbooks and curriculum.
The district’s overall property tax levy rate is slated to stay the same, because of rising market value, at $468 per $100,000.
n Middleton School District: $1.5 million a year for two years.
The levy will go toward maintaining class sizes, new science curriculum, technology for students and building maintenance.
The levy would cost taxpayers $94 per $100,000 of taxable property value per year, up from the current supplemental levy rate of $82 per $100,000. By decreasing bond payments, the district plans to reduce its overall tax rate to $292 per $100,000.