May 17: an $18.5 million school election day

The May 17 primary election will reshape Idaho politics for years to come, but over $18.5 million in requests from school districts will also be on the ballot.

With all top state offices up for grabs, voters in at least nine districts will consider requests to funnel local funds to schools from Genesee to Teton. The bulk of those requests — nearly $15.6 million — comes in the form of one- and two-year supplemental levies districts use to help cover anything from salaries to textbooks.

One district will float two separate bond issues worth $1.5 million apiece.

The amount represents a decline from what districts asked for in March, which came in at just over $288 million. By comparison, March 2017’s election featured a mammoth $715 million in bonds and levies.

Still, the requests are part of a continued trend in Idaho, as the amount of money K-12 schools receive via supplemental funds has grown for six years and counting. The state’s supplemental levy bill set a new record in 2021-22. In all, Idaho property owners will have bankrolled more than $218.2 million in supplemental levies this school year alone, up about $1.6 million from the record-setting year prior.

A closer look at what’s up this time around:

Bond issues

The Ririe School District, in Rural East Idaho, will have two $1.5 million bond issues on the ballot:

  1. A three-year, $1.5 million measure for construction of a maintenance and transportation building.
  2. A five-year, $1.5 million for various upgrades to facilities throughout the district.

Click here for a closer look at what leaders say the money would go toward.

Supplemental levies

A look at districts running supplemental levies, and their amounts:

  • Salmon River: a one-year, $495,000 supplemental levy.
  • Whitepine: a one-year, $880,000 supplemental levy.
  • Nezperce: a one-year $445,000 supplemental levy.
  • Wendell: a two-year $1.2 million supplemental levy.
  • Cottonwood: a one-year, $250,000 supplemental levy.
  • Plummer-Worley: a two-year, $1,254,000 supplemental levy.
  • Genesee: a one-year, $1,185,000 supplemental levy.
  • Teton: a two-year, $9,864,000 supplemental levy.

A new law that kicks in July 1 of this year requires districts to spell out how they plan to spend a supplemental levy. Districts will have to list a detailed description of their plans for levy dollars on the ballot.

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

Devin Bodkin

Devin Bodkin

EdNews assistant editor and reporter Devin Bodkin is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He lives and works in East Idaho. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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