School levies: Decision day approaches

Only two days ago, Gov. Butch Otter unveiled his 2014-15 budget proposal for K-12 education.

But school superintendents and school boards can’t wait for the budget-writing process to begin — much less the outcome. Not if they plan to take supplemental levies to voters in March, anyway.

March 11 is the next date school districts can schedule supplemental levy or bond issue elections, and is one of only four election days available to school districts. But in order to hold a March election, school districts must submit their ballot language to local elections officials by Jan. 17.

Here’s an early look ahead:

Meridian. The state’s largest school district is clearly leaning toward running a levy in March, in hopes of replacing a two-year, $28 million levy that expires this year — and a building bond issue, most likely in August. But first things first; the School Board will meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday; if the district decides to run a levy in March, the ground rules should emerge from this board meeting.

Nampa. The early signs point toward a March levy. The idea received unanimous backing from community stakeholders at a meeting last month.

On Thursday, the public will get its say. School trustees will take public comments at a hearing at 7 p.m. at district headquarters, 619 S. Canyon St. The board will follow up with its regularly scheduled meeting at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Same location.

The state’s third largest district is digging out from a $5.1 million shortfall, stemming from a series of accounting errors. Since August 2012, voters have approved two levies totaling $7.5 million.

Bonneville. In this eastern Idaho district — Idaho’s fifth-largest district — a $93 million bond issue is already in the works for March 11.

Magic Valley. A full spate of levy and bond issue elections are taking shape, with elections in the works in Twin Falls, Jerome, Cassia County, Minidoka County, Kimberly, Shoshone and Wendell. Here’s a roundup from the Times-News’ Julie Wootton.

We’ll continue to keep tabs on levies and bond issues across the state. Check back for updates.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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