A long and contentious year of elections is in the works in Kuna.
On May 20, voters in this bedroom community school district south of Boise will go back to the polls, as the district takes a second shot at a two-year, $6.38 million school levy. In August, voters might be going back to the polls to decide whether to keep or recall School Board member Michael Law, who opposes the property tax levies. Law says he is being made into a political target. “We’ve got a disagreement about how things should work,” Law said Tuesday, “and they’re after blood.”
The disagreement came to the surface just before the March 11 school elections. As the district prepared to go to the polls seeking a two-year, $6.38 million levy, Law banded together with opponents to issue fliers criticizing the proposal. The opponents prevailed; the levy received 48 percent of the vote, falling short of the simple majority needed for passage.
The district moved quickly in the aftermath of that defeat. Saying the failed levy could force the district to cut instruction days and let some teaching positions go dark, a divided school board voted 3-2 on March 21 to run another school levy in May. Law and fellow trustee Royleen Anderson opposed the move — and Law is irked that the rest of the board moved so quickly to push another levy. “That’s a slap in the face to the voters.”
Law’s critics also moved quickly, gathering the 20 signatures needed to launch a recall election. They submitted these initial petitions, and on March 26, they received the go-ahead from the Ada County elections office to proceed with the second stage of a recall election.
That means opponents have 75 days, basically until mid-June, to gather signatures from 29 registered voters. State law establishes this threshold; a petition drive must represent at least half of the votes cast in the most recent school board election. Law was elected in 2013, garnering 31 of 56 votes cast.
Recall organizer Terri Reno says she already has 44 signatures in hand. “There’s a lot of people that are helping me,” said Reno, the mother of three Kuna school graduates, who has six grandchildren who will begin attending Kuna schools in the next couple years. (And Reno’s group isn’t acting alone; a Facebook group has also surfaced, urging Law to step down.)
Reno says she’s leaving nothing to chance. She’d like to get at least 60 signatures before turning in petitions to the county — just to make sure she has enough valid signatures from registered voters.
Once the county elections office reviews petition signatures and validates the recall drive, Law would have five days to decide whether to resign or fight to keep his post. If he chooses to fight — and he says he would — the district would schedule a recall election. The earliest that could occur is in August, on one of four election dates available to school districts, said Jo Spencer, Ada County’s elections supervisor.
Even if Kuna voters approve a levy in May, Reno says she would still press for a recall. She is still upset that Law campaigned against the March levy, without offering an alternative.
Law, meanwhile, says the district hasn’t taken a close enough look at savings — perhaps by following the Nampa School District’s lead and outsourcing custodial services, or outsourcing bus service. And Law says he is gearing up to fight the recall, and the May levy. “Our solutions seem to be money, money, money, and that’s it.”