Trustees search for ways to reach more voters

Kuna school board trustees weighed a critical decision: which election date offers the best chance of reaching the most voters.

Kuna has more than 8,000 parents and only 2,719 people voted in the last bond election.  “Our families didn’t vote,” superintendent Wendy Johnson told board trustees Tuesday evening.

As the population of Kuna grows, the district will be asking voters to approve a new bond request to alleviate expected overcrowding over the next 10 years. Voters rejected the previous $111.4 million bond issue in March for new schools and renovations.

So when will it be on the ballot again?

Johnson presented four options: Nov. 7, 2023; May 17, 2024; Aug. 30, 2024; and Nov. 5, 2024.

Trustees didn’t reach a consensus. November of this year could be too soon, yet next summer or fall would push back the start of new construction until well into 2025.

Another concern centered on certain dates coinciding with high-profile national elections. While Nov. 7 is mainly local, the May 7, 2024 election will include U.S. Congressional elections and a Presidential primary — likely more voters at the polls but Kuna’s bond proposal could be overshadowed by national politics.

Trustees did agree that Johnson’s outreach efforts may provide needed answers. At the last board meeting, she proposed using voter surveys and hosting focus groups to learn more about why it failed. Trustees agreed to postpone a decision for the next election until Johnson obtains her results.

They discussed three expanded questions on the upcoming survey:

  • Should Kuna only seek new bonds for new schools when the old bonds are paid off?
  • To accommodate more students in the same space, we could change when students attend school: use a year-round schedule; use a hybrid schedule with students attending one day online, one day in person; use a split shift schedule assigning students to attend either the morning or afternoon session.
  • Provide only the required educational program and services: eliminate choice programs; non-required elementary electives; sports and activities; and non-required services such as school resource officers and nurses.

Johnson stressed that these are possible solutions used in other districts and these ideas should not be considered a “threat.” They want voters to provide feedback as they search for solutions.

“We have to do something to create space for the kids,” Johnson said.

She also mentioned additional options involving changing attendance boundaries, rezoning elementary schools and increasing class sizes.

In other business, trustees considered a variety of innovative ideas, approved a new negotiated agreement with teachers and approved the 2023-24 budget.

  • Moody’s financial firm notified Kuna that it has one of the highest financial ratings in the state, which will allow it to obtain superior loan terms with banks and other institutions. 
  • Meta provided a $50,000 educational grant for science, technology, engineering and math. The grant will help fund a state-of-the art robotics explorer lab at Hubbard.  It will be equipped with robotics kits and resources that facilitate hands-on learning experiences.  Nicole Crow and Lisa Gamboa spearheaded the effort. Hubbard will be able to upgrade its infrastructure and expand the after-school Lego Explore Club. 
  • Trustees approved the new negotiated agreement for 2023-24 school year: no pay raise will be less than $3,550; the average raises for all certified employees is 7%; no health insurance premium increase for employees and another option for family insurance; maintain staffing levels; better salary schedule with quicker movements for additional education. 
  • Trustees approved the 2022-23 revised budget and approved the 2023-24 requested budget.
Darren Svan

Darren Svan

Reporter Darren Svan has a background in both journalism and education. Prior to working for military schools at overseas installations, he was news editor at several publications in Wyoming and Colorado. You can send news tips to [email protected].

Get EdNews in your inbox

Weekly round up every Friday