A $208.9 million school election day

Written by on Mar 12th, 2014. | Copyright © IdahoEdNews.org

Wiley Dobbs

Twin Falls district Superintendent Wiley Dobbs

(UPDATED, 12:26 p.m., with statement from Kuna School District.)

$208,877,000.

That’s the bottom line from a busy election night across the state.

All told, voters approved just shy of $209 million in school levies and bond issues Tuesday, according to an Idaho Education News analysis of election results.

By and large, school districts fared well as they took their cases to the polls. Voters approved 41 of 48 ballot measures statewide.

A few headlines:

  • The biggest winner was Twin Falls, as voters said yes to a $73.8 million building bond issue, designed to address enrollment increases.
  • The biggest-ticket item was handed the night’s biggest loss. Bonneville district voters resoundingly rejected a $92 million bond issue — also a response to enrollment growth.
  • Idaho’s largest school district, Meridian, received a two-year renewal on a $14 million-a-year levy. Next up: The district plans an August bond issue of its own.
  • Nampa voters approved their third supplemental levy since August 2012. Unlike the previous levies, this one will not be used to erase a lingering shortfall that topped out at $5.1 million. Win or lose, district officials went into Tuesday’s election expecting to be in the black at the June 30 end of the budget year.
  • The closest shave unfolded in North Idaho’s Wallace School District. A levy passed on a 261-259 vote, barely receiving the simple majority required for passage. On the other side of the coin, a $4.8 million bond issue fell just shy of passage in Eastern Idaho’s North Gem district. If four more patrons had come out to vote yes, the bond issue would have passed.

Here’s a detailed rundown by region:

North Idaho (source: Spokane Spokesman-Review)

Lakeland. Levy passes: two years, $9.59 million. The district said the levy will stave off a 20 percent budget cut. Taxes will still drop, since the district is replacing a two-year, $9.9 million levy. Passed with 69 percent approval.

Kellogg. Levy passes: two years, $5.56 million. Received 60 percent support.

Wallace. Levy passes: two years, $4 million. Passed with a narrow 50.2 percent majority.

West Bonner. Levy failed. A one-year, $3.5 million proposal received 42 percent support.

North-central Idaho (source: Lewiston Tribune).

Orofino. Supplemental levy passes: two years, $2.3 million. Plant facilities levy passes: 10 years, $1 million. Passed with 64 percent and 62 percent approval, respectively.

Potlatch. Levy passes: one year, $1.4 million. Received 61 percent approval.

Genesee. Levy passes: one year, $935,000. Passed with 70 percent approval.

Kendrick. Levy passes: one year, $825,000. Passed with 72 percent approval.

Kamiah. Levy passes: one year, $650,000. Received 56 percent approval.

Highland. Levy passes: one year, $499,000. Passed with 68 percent approval.

Nezperce. Bond passes: 11 years, $400,000. Received 69 percent approval.

Culdesac. Levy passes: two years, $250,000. Passed with a 57 percent majority.

Ada, Canyon and Boise counties

Meridian. Levy passes: two years, $28 million. The state’s largest school district received 60 percent approval on a levy designed to keep the school calendar intact. Meridian imposed 14 furlough days during the height of the recession, and bought back nine of those days. The renewal of the levy will keep these nine days on the calendar.

Vallivue. Levy passes: two years, $9 million. On the heels of a $50 million bond issue in May, voters approved a levy to put money into technology, textbooks and supplies and Advanced Placement and concurrent enrollment. Passed with 65 percent approval.

Nampa. Levy passes: two years, $6.78 million. For the third time since August 2012, Nampa voters said yes to a supplemental levy. This levy will be used to restore the five classroom days that were cut from this year’s calendar, restore teacher training days and fill about half of its 46 vacant teaching positions.  “The levy’s passage is critical to our children’s and the community’s future,” interim Superintendent Pete Koehler said, after the levy passed with 62 percent approval. “It will help our district recover more quickly as we restore two critical areas — time and teachers for children.”

Kuna. Levy failed. The two-year, $6.38 million levy received 48 percent support. In a statement Wednesday, the district said patrons should expect “major changes in day-to-day operations.” That may mean fewer school days, larger class sizes and cuts to programs.

Caldwell. Levy passes: two years, $5.5 million. The renewed levy is designed to maintain academic and professional-technical programs and extracurriculars, such as music, athletics and physical education. Passed with 71 percent approval.

Middleton. Levy passes: two years, $2.62 million. Passed with 68 percent approval.

Garden Valley. Levy passes: two years, $500,000. The levy will help the district offset rising utility costs, update its wastewater plant and hire more teachers for foreign language and performing arts. Passed with 56 percent approval.

Southwest Idaho (source: KBOI TV).

Mountain Home. Levy passes: two years, $5.4 million. Passed with 65 percent approval.

Fruitland. Plant facilities levy passes: 10 years, $2.5 million. Received 67 percent approval.

Bruneau-Grand View. Levy failed. The district was seeking $1.2 million over two years, but their proposal received 46 percent approval.

New Plymouth. Levy passes: two years, $700,000. Received 84 percent approval.

Weiser. Levy passes: two years, $700,000. Received 74 percent approval.

Magic Valley (source: the Times-News, Twin Falls)

Twin Falls. Bond issue passes: $73.8 million. The bond issue will be used to build two new elementary schools and a new middle school, expand Twin Falls’ new Canyon Ridge High School by 480 students and renovate Twin Falls High School. Received 68 percent approval.

Jerome. Bond issue passes: $24 million. The district plans to expand and remodel its existing schools, to deal with safety concerns and brace for continued enrollment increases, particularly at Jerome High School. Passed with 70 percent approval.

Murtaugh. Bond issue passes: $5.4 million. With 75 percent voter support, the district will build a new elementary school.

Minidoka County. Levy passes: two years, $3.9 million. Plans include district-wide high-speed Internet and WiFi and computing devices for students and staff. Passed with 62 percent approval.

Wendell. Bond issue failed. The district sought $3.1 million, and received 54 percent support — but fell short of the two-thirds supermajority needed for passage.

Cassia County. Levy passes: two years, $1.55 million. This year’s levy renewal includes a $93,000-a-year increase earmarked for textbooks. Passed with 60 percent approval.

Filer. Levy passes: two years, $1 million. Received 77 percent of the vote.

Buhl. Levy passes: two years, $800,000. Received 72 percent support.

Castleford. Levy passes: two years, $800,000. Received 74 percent approval.

Kimberly. Levy passes: two years, $600,000. Received 69 percent approval.

Shoshone. Levy passes: two years, $600,000. Received 73 percent approval.

Southeast Idaho (source: Idaho State Journal, Pocatello)

North Gem. Bond issue failed. The $4.8 million proposal received 66 percent approval, falling shy of the required two-thirds supermajority.

American Falls. Plant facilities levy passes: six years, $3.27 million. Passed with 70 percent approval.

Aberdeen. Levy passes: two years, $1.35 million. Passed with 61 percent approval.

Soda Springs. Levy passes: one year, $798,000. Passed with 68 percent support.

Oneida. Levy passes, $700,000. Passed with 70 percent of the vote.

Firth. Levy passes: two years, $460,000. Passed with 71 percent of the vote.

Grace. Supplemental levy passes: one year, $300,000. Plant facilities levy passes: three years, $150,000. Passed with 75 percent and 76 percent approval, respectively.

West Side. Levy passes: $90,000. Plant facilities levy passes, five years, $200,000. Passed with 82 percent and 81 percent approval, respectively.

Eastern Idaho (source, KIDK TV)

Bonneville. Bond issue fails. In the face of rising enrollment — up 45 percent since 2000 — the district sought $92 million to build a new middle school and high school, and supplement existing schools that are over capacity. The proposal received only 44 percent support, far below the two-thirds supermajority required to pass. “We just have to take the time now, and figure out how we can house all these students with the resources that we have,” Superintendent Chuck Shackett told KIDK.

Madison. Plant facility levy fails. The district sought $2.5 million, but could muster only 46 percent support.

More reading

IEA president: Despite the spate of successful levies, many school districts are approaching the ‘tipping point.’

  • Dr. Geoffrey M. Thomas

    A correction regarding the Madison vote. We actually received 54 percent patron approval. Anywhere else in the USA that would have resulted in a victory.

    Perhaps the time has come to let the majority rule in Idaho and change the laws to reflect the will of the electorate. Though possible, a super majority is a very high (too high) of a threshold for school districts to meet.

  • Les Odgers

    And where does this money come from…Thin air?

  • John Darrow

    The money comes from extra taxes the local community had decided to invest in education. Of course, funding education is supposed to be the job of our state government, but they can’t be troubled with it. There are tax breaks to corporations they need to hand out.

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