A $410 million election day: Here’s what’s on the line

Across Idaho — from its largest school district to some of its smallest districts — $410 million will be on the line Tuesday.

Forty-four of Idaho’s 115 school districts will go to voters seeking help with building projects and upkeep, or short-term help for day-to-day operations.

The breakdown: schools across the state will seek $191.7 million in building bonds, $140.6 million in short-term supplemental levies for salaries and academic programs and $77.7 million in plant facilities levies for building repairs and maintenance.

Here’s the district-by-district breakdown, with links to the districts’ websites and sample ballots.

West Ada: $95 million bond issue; two-year, $28 million supplemental levy.

For full coverage, click on this story.

Lewiston: five-year, $60 million supplemental levy.

The district is seeking renewal on a supplemental levy that has been on the books since 1986.

The district says the levy accounts for 30 percent of its budget and covers salaries for 24 certified staffers and 164 classified staffers. Levy proceeds also cover extracurricular activities such as music and choir.

Supplemental levies need only a simple majority to pass.

Twin Falls: 10-year, $47.5 million plant facilities levy.

The district’s to-do list includes roof replacements, technology upgrades, replacing heating systems and tightening up security at school entrances. “Our older schools were not designed with visitor security in mind,” the district says in an online fact sheet.

Twin Falls has collected a plant facilities levy since 1958 — and the district says tax rates will decrease, whether the levy passes or not.

This levy needs a 60 percent supermajority to pass.

Bonneville: $35.3 million bond issue.

The centerpiece of the bond issue is a proposed new middle school to accommodate 1,000 students.

The rollout of the bond issue has generated some controversy, with some patrons criticizing the district for pulling a $25 million elementary school out of the blueprint.

Administrators say the rapidly growing district can absorb a bond issue without raising property tax rates. Bond issues need a two-thirds supermajority to pass.

Middleton: $25 million bond issue.

The growing Canyon County district would use bonds to design and build a fourth elementary school, and purchase land for new elementary and middle school sites. The district says two of its three elementary schools are already over capacity, and districtwide enrollment is expected to increase by 1,000 students by 2022-23. The bond issue would not increase property tax rates.

Emmett: $20.4 million bond issue.

The district hopes to get another 30 years out of its middle school building through a complete remodel. The high school would undergo some remodeling, including a new entrance designed to improve security. A new career-technical building would house agricultural science and pre-engineering programs. The bond issue would not increase property tax rates.

Marsh Valley: Ten-year, $9 million plant facilities levy.

Marsh Valley hopes to replace a $750,000-a-year levy that expires this year. If this plant facilities levy receives the required 60 percent support, property taxes would increase by $22 per $100,000 of taxable value.

Snake River: Ten-year, $7.5 million plant facilities levy.

The district hopes to renew a levy that has been on the books for 30 years. The project list includes roof repairs at every school and excavation and paving of school parking lots.

Jerome: Ten-year, $6.75 million plant facilities levy.

Jerome’s to-do list includes roof repair and replacement, replacing and upgrading heating and cooling systems, tightening security at school entrances and buying land for a new school site. Renewing the 40-year-old levy should not increase property tax rates. The levy needs 60 percent support to pass.

Mountain View: Two-year, $6.2 million supplemental levy.

With funding from the federal Secure Rural Schools program on hold, the sprawling north-central Idaho school district hopes to increase its supplemental levy. A one-year, $2.66 million levy will expire in 2018. If the new levy passes, property taxes would increase by $50 per $100,000 of taxable value. The current supplemental levy makes up 23 percent of the district’s general fund.

Shoshone: $6 million bond issue; two-year, $600,000 supplemental levy.

For the third time since August, Shoshone will try to convince voters to say yes to a bond issue. The project list includes a new multipurpose facility and a new vocational building, and modifications at the elementary school and high school. A November bond issue received 64 percent support, falling short of the two-thirds supermajority threshold.

Blaine County: Two-year, $5.98 million supplemental levy.

The levy would maintain programs such as pre-K and all-day kindergarten, extracurricular activities and provide a “modest salary increase” to staff. The proposal has drawn criticism from the conservative Idaho Freedom Foundation, which has called on the district to roll back its retirement benefits. In response, the district takes issue with the claim that the supplemental levy is a tax increase; if this levy passes, the district will reduce its plant facilities levy by a corresponding amount.

Mountain Home: Two-year, $5.4 million supplemental levy.

The levy accounts for about 11 percent of Mountain Home’s budget. And the money goes to a variety of line items, including staffing, salaries and benefits, curriculum and classroom technology. The levy has been on the books since 2010, and a renewal would not increase property tax rates.

Orofino: Two-year, $5.37 million supplemental levy.

The proposal would renew a levy at its 2017-18 level.

Caldwell: Two-year, $5 million supplemental levy.

Another supplemental levy renewal. District officials say property tax rates will remain the same, even if this levy passes.

Parma: $5 million bond issue.

Parma wants to use the bond issue for a new agricultural education building, expanding the high school band room, replacing stadium bleachers and middle school tennis courts, repairing the school track and upgrading stadium lighting and security systems. The district says the bond issue will not increase property tax rates.

Wilder: $5 million bond issue.

Money from the bond issue would build a new lunchroom and cafeteria, two vocational-agricultural classrooms and a vocational-agricultural shop. Property tax rates would not increase.

Bear Lake County: Ten-year, $4 million plant facilities levy.

Wallace: Two-year, $3.6 million supplemental levy.

Cassia County: Two-year, $3.2 million supplemental levy.

Kendrick: Two-year, $1.62 million supplemental levy; five-year, $250,000 plant facilities levy.

Potlatch: One-year, $1.75 million supplemental levy.

Oneida County: Ten-year, $1.2 million plant facilities levy; one-year, $290,000 supplemental levy.

Aberdeen: Two-year, $1.35 million supplemental levy.

Meadows Valley: Ten-year, $1.314 million plant facilities levy.

Shelley: Two-year, $1.15 million supplemental levy.

Genesee: One-year, $935,000 supplemental levy.

Basin: Two-year, $850,000 supplemental levy.

Salmon: Two-year, $798,000 supplemental levy.

Grace: Two-year, $600,000 supplemental levy; one-year, $150,000 plant facilities levy.

Soda Springs: One-year, $728,000 supplemental levy.

Buhl: Two-year, $700,000 supplemental levy.

Castleford: Two-year, $700,000 supplemental levy.

Glenns Ferry: Two-year, $700,000 supplemental levy.

Weiser: Two-year, $700,000 supplemental levy.

Firth: Two-year, $600,000 supplemental levy.

Valley: Two-year, $600,000 supplemental levy.

New Plymouth: Two-year, $580,000 supplemental levy.

Richfield: Two-year, $550,000 supplemental levy.

Culdesac: Two-year, $500,000 supplemental levy.

Kamiah: One-year, $500,000 supplemental levy.

Kimberly: Two-year, $500,000 supplemental levy.

Highland: One-year, $499,000 supplemental levy.

West Side: One-year, $90,000 supplemental levy.

Idaho Education News data analyst Randy Schrader contributed to this report.

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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