West Ada delays action on supplemental levy

On Tuesday night West Ada trustees decided they needed another 48 hours before deciding whether to call a supplemental levy.

School board members gathered Tuesday at the district office for trustee training and — and to discuss whether to seek renewal of the district’s $14 million supplemental levy.

Russell Joki
West Ada trustee Russell Joki / Idaho Ed News photo by Andrew Reed.

But first-year trustee Russell Joki asked to put the vote off, saying he wanted a district spokesman to alert parents and the public to the board’s upcoming decision and how important the meeting would be.

Trustees are now scheduled to meet at the district office at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to consider the issue.

The existing supplemental is due to expire next year. In order for it to be reauthorized, a simple majority of voters must support it at the ballot box.

Just one week ago, district spokesman Eric Exline recommended scheduling the vote on Nov. 3, the next available date on the state’s election calendar. Trustees could have made that decision Tuesday, but Joki wanted to use the district’s notification technology to alert parents to the meeting and to allow them to participate in a survey about the need for the supplemental levy and the state of school funding approved by the Legislature.

Joki originally sought to push the meeting back to Friday, but Superintendent Linda Clark warned him that nobody would attend because of interest in Boise State University’s first home football game scheduled that night. Other trustees said their availability was tight Friday, or balked at the prospect of meeting as a large number of school staffers and families head out for the Labor Day weekend.

During Thursday’s meeting, trustees may also take action on a separate emergency levy, which the state allows in order to help districts manage student growth. Emergency levies do not need voter approval.

It was not immediately clear Tuesday what exact language would be used in the parent survey, how many responses district officials hope to collect and analyze in less than 48 hours or how many people would attend Thursday’s meeting. Despite the short notice, the meeting still meets the guidelines for Idaho open meetings laws.

In order to hold the election Nov. 3, trustees must vote to authorize the levy and submit paperwork to county officials by Sept. 14. Other dates are also available in 2016, although Exline said those options are less desirable.

District leaders used the existing levy to buy back nine instructional days and pay for 35 teaching positions that had been cut from West Ada’s calendar during the recession. Clark said those teaching positions and instructional days hinge on the passage of a new supplemental levy.