March 14 could be the biggest school election day in Idaho history.
Voters will decide on bonds and levies running more than $1 billion — making it, easily, the spendiest election day in the past several years.
For more insight, read Kevin Richert’s analysis on how this probable record-setting day might be the last election day of its kind.
About $700 million of the March 14 bond issues and levies have a set lifespan. If passed, the bond issues would run from 10 to 30 years. The levies would run from one to 10 years.
Then there’s Lewiston’s five-year supplemental levy, for a projected $100 million.
Then there’s Coeur d’Alene, which is using a clause in state law to pursue a permanent, $25 million-a-year supplemental levy. If this levy passes, this could push the election day pricetag above the $1 billion mark.
To help you figure out what’s at stake, we’ve collected sample ballots from the 47 districts seeking a ballot measure next month.
And since school elections are confusing, we spell out the rules about bond issues and levies here.
Here are district-by-district thumbnails:
Nampa: $210.2 million bond issue.
What’s at stake? In the biggest measure on the March 14 ballot, Nampa is seeking money for a host of projects, including $100 million to replace Nampa High School; $30 million for a new career and technical center; $26 million for renovations at Skyview High School; and $25.5 million to replace Centennial Elementary School.
What’s the process? With a successful bond issue, a district enters into long-term debt to bankroll building projects. All bond issues require a two-thirds supermajority to pass.
Kuna: $111.4 million bond issue.
What’s at stake? The growing suburban district is looking at several projects, including a new elementary school; a classroom wing and athletic facilities at Swan Falls High School; and renovations and additions at Fremont and Kuna middle schools.
Lewiston: Five-year, $100 million supplemental levy (projected).
What’s at stake? The levy accounts for 36% of Lewiston’s annual budget. The money would go toward staffing, career-technical education, and K-3 reading, among other areas.
What’s the process? In Lewiston’s case, it’s complicated. Most supplemental levies have a set price tag. As a “charter” school district that predates statehood, Lewiston can run a supplemental levy for a set tax rate — in this case, $395 per $100,000 of taxable value. This levy would generate a projected $100 over five years, Superintendent Lance Hansen said.
Lewiston’s current levy, $420 per $100,000 of taxable value, brought in about $19.6 million this year, Hansen said.
In all cases, supplemental levies can cover a variety of projects or day-to-day needs. All supplemental levies require only a simple majority to pass.
Jefferson County: Two separate bond issues, totaling $80 million.
What’s at stake? The big bond issue, at $75 million, would go largely toward a new middle school. The $5 million bond issue would add a gym at Roberts Elementary School.
Fremont County: $59.98 million bond issue.
What’s at stake? Additions at several schools, including CTE and agricultural additions at North Fremont High School.
Coeur d’Alene: Permanent, $25 million-a-year supplemental levy. Five-year, $25 million plant facilities levy.
What’s at stake? The supplemental levy accounts for about a fourth of Coeur d’Alene’s annual budget. The biggest chunk of the money, more than $7.2 million, goes to teacher and staff salaries. About $4.6 million goes into an array of maintenance areas, such as transportation staffing.
The separate plant facilities levy would go largely into deferred maintenance, with a total of $2.5 million going toward safety and security.
What’s the process? Most supplemental levies run only one to two years, subject to renewal. But Coeur d’Alene is using a state law that allows for a permanent levy, with simple majority support. Districts can seek permanent taxing authority if a levy has been on the books for at least seven straight years, and if it accounts for at least a fifth of the district’s maintenance and operations fund.
Plant facilities levies cover maintenance and upkeep projects. They require a supermajority of 55% to two-thirds to pass, depending on their size. Coeur d’Alene’s levy will require a 55% majority to pass.
Cassia County: Ten-year, $32.7 million plant facilities levy.
What’s at stake? Roof repairs are the big-ticket item, at $7.5 million. The district also proposes spending $6.3 million to swap out aging technology.
Oneida County: $29 million bond issue.
What’s at stake? A new elementary school.
Lakeland: Two-year, $19.04 million supplemental levy; six-year, $6.88 million plant facilities levy.
What’s at stake? The bulk of the supplemental levy, more than $12.2 million, would go into teacher and staff salaries.
Pocatello-Chubbuck: Two-year, $16.5 million supplemental levy.
What’s at stake? Largely salaries, to the tune of close to $11 million. This proposal represents a reduction from the current two-year, $18.5 million levy.
Idaho Falls: Two-year, $13.6 million supplemental levy.
What’s at stake? More than $10.8 million for salaries and benefits.
Post Falls: Two-year, $11.92 million supplemental levy.
What’s at stake? More than $4.1 million would go into salaries; nearly $2.4 million would go into building maintenance.
Twin Falls: Two-year, $11.4 million supplemental levy.
What’s at stake: $8 million for staff salaries; $2.6 million for security, including school resource officers and security guards in elementary schools.
Parma: Ten-year, $8.55 million levy for the Canyon-Owyhee School Service Agency, which provides career-technical education, special education and alternative education for five school districts.
Notus: Ten-year, $3.56 million plant facilities levy; 10-year, $2.66 million levy for COSSA.
Castleford: $6 million bond issue.
American Falls: Two-year, $5.5 million supplemental levy.
Boundary County: Two-year, $4.8 million supplemental levy.
St. Maries: Two-year, $4.14 million supplemental levy.
Blackfoot: Two-year, $4 million supplemental levy.
Emmett: Two-year, $3 million supplemental levy.
Kootenai: Two-year, $2.75 million supplemental levy.
Jerome: Two-year, $2.5 million supplemental levy.
Weiser: Four-year, $2 million plant facilities levy.
Kendrick: Two-year, $1.5 million supplemental levy; five-year, $300,000 plant facilities levy.
Potlatch: One-year, $1.6 million supplemental levy.
Jerome: Two-year, $1.52 million supplemental levy.
Challis: Two-year, $1.4 million supplemental levy.
Snake River: Two-year, $1.4 million supplemental levy.
Bear Lake County: Two-year, $1.3 million supplemental levy.
Cascade: Two-year, $1.3 million supplemental levy.
Genesee: One-year, $1.18 million supplemental levy.
Payette: Two-year, $1 million supplemental levy.
Grace: Two-year, $900,000 supplemental levy.
Meadows Valley: Two-year, $746,800 supplemental levy.
West Jefferson: Two-year, $720,000 supplemental levy.
Soda Springs: One-year, $698,000 supplemental levy.
Camas County: Two two-year supplemental levies, totaling $600,000.
Horseshoe Bend: Two-year, $600,000 supplemental levy.
Sugar-Salem: Two-year, $600,000 supplemental levy.
Hansen: Two-year, $580,000 supplemental levy.
Ririe: Two-year, $580,000 supplemental levy.
Butte County: Two-year, $320,000 supplemental levy; two-year, $206,000 plant facilities levy.
Clark County: Two-year, $500,000 supplemental levy.
Highland: One-year, $499,000 supplemental levy.
Swan Valley: Five-year, $375,000 plant facilities levy.
West Side: One-year, $90,000 supplemental levy.
Idaho Education News data analyst Randy Schrader contributed to this report.