Repeat levies pass in West Ada, Middleton

Three months after saying no, West Ada voters have renewed a supplemental levy.

Tuesday’s result should allow the state’s largest school district to avoid cutting staff positions and dipping into budget reserves.

The two-year, $28 million supplemental levy received 53 percent support, clearing the simple majority needed to pass. All told, 19,608 voters approved the levy, while 17,591 voters said no.

An identical proposal received 46 percent support in the vote-by-mail spring primary. But because that proposal shared ballot space with a spate of federal, legislative and county primaries, turnout was higher. More than 46,300 people voted on the May levy proposal, while about 37,200 people voted in Tuesday’s election.

The levy accounts for about 5 percent of West Ada’s budget.

“This money is needed to cover our operational costs that support our current programs, school days and teacher-to-student ratios,” district spokeswoman Char Jackson said Wednesday. “We pride ourselves on doing a lot with a little at West Ada but this money will help us go even further when it comes to providing educational opportunities for our students.”

Had the levy failed, again, the district had said it would fill the $14 million gap by using budget reserves and making some spending cuts — such as leaving 10 certified jobs and 10 classified jobs unfilled. West Ada has roughly $27 million in reserves, but district officials said spending savings is only a short-term fix.

In Middleton, voters passed a two-year, $3 million repeat levy. The levy received 52 percent support, after identical proposals received only 48 percent backing in the spring and failed in March.

The district has said the levy would help reverse some of the budget cuts approved earlier this summer, and scale back student athletic fees.

Under Idaho election law, school districts can seek supplemental levies and bond issues four times during the year: in March, May, August and November.

In other school election results:

  • West Jefferson: A $3 million bond issue failed. The proposal would have replaced a cafeteria and kitchen building in use since 1961, and would have financed remodeling and improvement projects. The bond issue received 60 percent support, falling short of the two-thirds supermajority needed to pass.
  • Madison: Voters renewed a two-year, $3.99 million supplemental levy, with 63 percent support. The money will go toward curricular materials, parking lot repairs, new buses and other items.
  • Jerome: Voters renewed a two-year, $1.6 million supplemental levy, also with 63 percent support.
  • Cambridge: A two-year, $200,000 supplemental levy passed with 64 percent support.

 

Kevin Richert

About Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on KIVI 6 On Your Side; "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television; and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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