Listen: A conversation on school bonds with Stan Olson

For the past week, we’ve joined forces with Boise State Public Radio to take an in-depth look at the Boise school bond issue — and the big March 14 school elections all across Idaho.

As part of the project, I had the chance to join Frankie Barnhill of Boise State Public Radio to interview Stan Olson, the former superintendent of the Boise School District.

Olson is always a good interview: opinionated, engaging and a good storyteller. We spent much of our time talking about Boise last bond issue.

In 2006, Olson convinced Boise voters to pass a $94 bond issue to replace some aging schools and renovate others.

Stan Olson

Olson had to make a nuanced case. District enrollment was flat. Boise didn’t need new schools to accommodate enrollment growth. Instead, Olson believed Boise needed to upgrade its schools to revitalize stagnant neighborhoods, and prevent the “socioeconomic donutting” that occurs when young families flee cities for the suburbs.

Boise voters said yes, with a 70 percent support.

Looking back, Olson says he believes the bond issue delivered on its promise. Most importantly, he believes the new and refurbished schools have shown all students that they matter.

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“They see things in their school and they see things in their community that are possible,” he said.


Here’s more from the series:


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