Tuesday’s elections: A community college vote, and more

In Bonneville County, Tuesday brings the next chapter in the debate over a community college.

In Canyon County, the Vallivue School District is taking another shot at a levy to cover building upkeep.

And across Idaho, voters will select candidates to fill volunteer spots on school boards.

After voters approved $695 million in school bonds and levies in March, the stakes for Tuesday’s school elections aren’t nearly as high. Here’s a look at what’s on the ballot.

Eastern Idaho community college: Bonneville County voters will decide whether to create a community college taxing district — a proposition that requires a two-thirds supermajority to pass.

The proposal has divided Republicans in GOP-dominated Bonneville County. Supporters include Senate Education Committee Chairman Dean Mortimer and Rep. Wendy Horman, a former Bonneville School District trustee who sits on the Legislature’s budget committee. The Bonneville County Republican Central Committee opposes the proposal.

Supporters say Eastern Idaho Technical College provides ready-made infrastructure for a two-year college, and they point out that the 2017 Legislature earmarked $5 million in community college seed money. The central committee opposes the tax increase — estimated at $13.37 per $100,000 of taxable property per year — and suggests the community college could host a refugee center, similar to Twin Falls’ College of Southern Idaho.

Vallivue: Voters will decide on a 10-year, $20 million plant facilities levy and a two-year, $9 million supplemental levy.

The rapidly growing district plans to use a renewed plant facilities levy for building maintenance and repairs, technology upgrades and purchases of land, buildings and modular classrooms. The district would use a renewed supplemental levy to hire teachers and staff, purchase textbooks and supplies and fund extracurricular programs.

In March, the plant facilities levy fell short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage. Supplemental levies need only a simple majority to pass.

Soda Springs: Voters will decide on a $6.5 million bond issue to replace the gymnasium at Tigert Middle School. The gymnasium was built in 1934. In November, a similar bond issue failed to clear the state’s two-thirds supermajority threshold.

Sugar-Salem: Voters have two decisions to make Tuesday. They will decide on a $5.59 million bond issue; the money would go toward a junior high school addition. They will also decide on a two-year, $400,000 supplemental levy, down from the current $450,000-a-year levy.

(The Eastern Idaho district has one of the state’s smallest property tax bases. Click here to read an in-depth look at the issues facing Sugar-Salem, and a preview of Tuesday’s elections.)

Emmett: Voters will decide whether to renew a two-year, $2.8 million supplemental levy. The levy would fund 11 teaching and paraprofessional jobs, building maintenance projects and an expanded classroom-online blended learning program.

Valley: A five-year, $1.5 million plant facilities levy is on the ballot.

Salmon River: The district is seeking a one-year, $525,000 supplemental levy, down from the $542,868 collected in 2016-17.

Nezperce: The district is seeking a one-year, $445,000 supplemental levy. The district collected a $473,623 levy in 2016-17.

Cottonwood: A one-year, $350,000 supplemental levy renewal is on the ballot.

Hagerman: Voters will decide whether to renew a two-year, $300,000 supplemental levy.

Trustee elections

Tuesday is also trustee election day across the state. A few highlights:

Nampa: As the state’s third-largest district hires a new superintendent, the school board will also get a makeover.

One familiar face is guaranteed to join the board. Allison Westfall is running unopposed to succeed Bob Otten. Westfall was the district’s spokeswoman until February, when she joined state superintendent Sherri Ybarra’s staff.

Meanwhile, Wendall Cass, Clinton Child and Kim Rost are vying to succeed retiring Brian McGourty, and Heather Lewis is challenging incumbent Mike Fuller.

Caldwell: Marisela Pesina and Nicarol Clifton will vie for a seat left vacant by former trustee Kent Marmon. Trustee Lisa Bevington will face challenger Lisa Johnson.

Lake Pend Oreille: Three incumbents are stepping down, creating a trio of wide-open races in this Sandpoint-based district. But the incumbents aren’t staying silent. According to the Spokane Spokesman-Review, the incumbents say a slate of conservative candidates are aligned to the alt-right American Redoubt movement — a claim the conservative candidates dismiss.

Kevin Richert

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 "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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