Coronavirus prompts districts to reconsider funding requests

The COVID-19 crisis is prompting Idaho school districts to reconsider requests for local funds in the May 19 election.

The Idaho Falls School District voted Wednesday to table its forthcoming $85 million bond issue to cover upgrades to two of its high schools, the Post Register reported.

The West Ada and Emmett school districts could do the same.

“I’m trying to see what we can do at this point,” Emmett School District Superintendent Craig Woods told EdNews Tuesday.

Emmett trustees recently approved floating a $62.5 million bond issue in May. Woods said he was working with the Idaho Secretary of State’s office Tuesday to determine a deadline for rescinding language already approved for the ballot.

West Ada trustees will meet at 2 p.m. Thursday to discuss pulling the district’s $68.7 million bond issue from the ballot.

Concerns over public safety and turnout amid the growing pandemic drive considerations for changing course.

“I do not feel comfortable with going ahead, trying to bring this to the public during such times,” Idaho Falls trustees Lara Hill said last week, according to the Post Register.

Similar concerns about spreading the virus during the upcoming election have reached the Idaho Secretary of State’s office, Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck told EdNews.

Currently, no plans are in place to change the election at a state level, Houck said, though “everything is being considered.” Officials will talk with Gov. Brad Little to consider options, Houck added.

“We’re now looking at a solid absentee push statewide to minimize the number of people going to a polling location,” Houck said.

It’s still unclear which districts plan to put local measures on the May ballot,  and which ones could attempt to change course. Officials at the Secretary of State’s election division won’t have a list of county ballot measures until later this week.

Check back with EdNews for more on this developing story.

More Reading: Check out our coronavirus timeline of events.

Devin Bodkin

About Devin Bodkin

Reporter Devin Bodkin covers education issues in East Idaho. He is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. Devin co-hosts "Beyond the Books" online news segments in conjunction with EastIdahoNews.com. He is a 2019 Solutions Journalism Network fellow. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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