Bonneville voters OK community college

Idaho has its fourth community college.

On Tuesday, Bonneville County voters supported a plan to convert Eastern Idaho Technical College into a two-year community college. The plan to create a community college taxing district received 71.4 percent support, eclipsing the two-thirds supermajority required for passage.

The proposal divided Republicans in GOP-dominated Bonneville County in recent months.

Supporters, including Senate Education Committee Chairman Dean Mortimer and Rep. Wendy Horman, pointed to EITC’s ready-made infrastructure and $5 million in community college seed money offered up by the 2017 Legislature. They had support from Gov. Butch Otter, who authored an 11th-hour guest opinion Friday urging passage of the community college plan.

The Bonneville County Republican Central Committee had opposed the measure. They questioned the college’s costs — which supporters said would amount to a tax increase of $13.37 a year on $100,000 of taxable property. They also suggested a community college could also host a refugee center, similar to Twin Falls’ College of Southern Idaho.

The Bonneville County community college joins CSI, Nampa-based College of Western Idaho and Coeur d’Alene’s North Idaho College.

School bond issues and levies

Voters approved $42.8 million in bond issues and levies across the state. Only one ballot measure failed: a bond issue in Eastern Idaho’s Sugar-Salem School District.

The results:

Vallivue: Voters narrowly approved renewing a 10-year, $20 million plant facilities levy, according to election results posted by Canyon County.

The plant facilities levy received 66.87 percent support, barely clearing the 66.67 percent supermajority threshold. More than 2,300 votes were cast Tuesday. Based on the county’s numbers, the levy passed by only five votes.

An identical plant facilities levy fell short of the two-third threshold needed to pass. Vallivue has had such a levy on the books for 30 years.

No suspense surrounded Vallivue’s two-year, $9 million supplemental levy. It received 66 percent support and needed only a simple majority to pass.

Soda Springs: This time around, voters approved a $6.5 million bond issue to replace an 83-year-old gymnasium at Tigert Middle School. The bond issue passed with 71 percent support, according to KIFI Local News 8. An identical bond issue failed in November.

Sugar-Salem: A $5.59 million bond issue for a junior high school addition received 58 percent support, falling shy of the required two-thirds supermajority threshold needed for passage. But voters did approve a two-year, $400,000 supplemental levy, scaled back from an expiring $450,000-a-year levy. This levy received 62 percent support. (Click here for an in-depth article on Sugar-Salem’s financial challenges.)

Emmett: A two-year, $2.8 million supplemental levy passed with 61 percent support. The levy will fund 11 teaching and paraprofessional jobs, building maintenance projects and an expanded classroom-online blended learning program.

Valley: A five-year, $1.5 million plant facilities levy passed with 80 percent support.

Parma: A two-year, $700,000 supplemental levy passed with 72 percent support.

Salmon River: A one-year, $525,000 supplemental levy passed with 79 percent support.

Nezperce: A one-year, $445,000 supplemental levy passed with 79 percent support.

Cottonwood: With a 71 percent majority, voters renewed a one-year, $350,000 supplemental levy.

Meadows Valley: A two-year, $306,000 supplemental levy passed with 79 percent support.

Hagerman: A two-year, $300,000 supplemental levy passed with 83 percent support.

School trustee elections

A few highlights from Tuesday’s trustee races across the state.

Nampa: Incumbent Mike Fuller was re-elected, while newcomer Kim Rost won a three-person race to succeed outgoing Brian McGourty. Allison Westfall was uncontested in a bid to succeed Bob Otten. Westfall was the district’s spokeswoman until February, when she joined state superintendent Sherri Ybarra’s staff.

Caldwell: Marisela Pesina won a board spot left vacant by former trustee Kent Marmon, while challenger Lisa Bevington defeated challenger Lisa Johnson.

Middleton: Voters ousted a pair of incumbent trustees. Aleisha McConkie narrowly defeated Bryan Foote, while Briggs Miller ousted Marc Gunning.

Idaho Education News reporter Devin Bodkin contributed to this report.