After two failed levies — and a debate that focused statewide attention on local school budget pressures — the Troy School District has considerably more breathing room Wednesday.
On Tuesday, voters passed a one-year, $995,000 supplemental levy that should allow the rural Latah County district to rehire staffers and reinstate athletic programs and all-day kindergarten.
In the end, Tuesday’s margin wasn’t even close. Nearly 73 percent of voters endorsed the levy, which needed only a simple majority to pass.
In March, Troy voters rejected a $1.3 million levy; two months later, a $1.2 million levy went down to defeat.
The failed levies forced district officials to write up a 2015-16 budget that reflected a 33 percent funding cut. The district eliminated 18 of its 50 staff positions, and cut athletics and other programs.
The $995,000 will allow Troy to fill some of the positions cut this summer.
In the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s election, the tiny school district of fewer than 300 students became a focal point in the ongoing debate over Idaho education funding. After the district cut her job, Troy High School teacher Renae Bafus penned an open letter to state superintendent Sherri Ybarra, challenging her to fight for rural districts that depend on the vagaries of short-term local property tax levies. In her response, Ybarra acknowledged that rural districts need additional funding, and more spending flexibility.
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Now that Troy voters have spoken, Bafus’ job will likely be reinstated. In an interview with Idaho Education News last week, Bafus said she would likely return to her job, if voters funded it for another year.
(Click here for our in-depth coverage of the Troy budget crisis.)
Here’s the roundup of other school elections Tuesday:
Mountain Home: Voters passed a five-year, $5 million plant facilities levy with 74 percent backing. District officials have said the money will go toward a variety of electrical upgrades and repairs, including a $1.5 million roof repair at the district’s Hacker Middle School.
Middleton: Voters said yes to a two-year, $2.62 million supplemental levy, which passed with 71 percent support. The Canyon County district will use the money to help cover busing, athletics, gifted and talented programs and other services.
Wendell: It was a rough election night for administrators in this Magic Valley district. A 10-year, $2.5 million plant facilities levy and a $1.6 million bond issue for high school improvements both fell short of the needed two-thirds supermajority. Each ballot measure received 58 percent support.
Tuesday’s results are a recurring theme in Wendell. It marked the fourth time voters have rejected a bond issue, the Twin Falls Times-News reported Wednesday.
Kamiah: Voters again rejected a $325,000 levy. The measure received only 39 percent support, according to the Lewiston Tribune. An identical levy proposal failed in May.
More reading: The West Ada School District sets its sights on a Nov. 3 supplemental levy.