Leaders in the Nampa and Kuna school districts vow to learn more about their communities after voters soundly rejected a combined $321 million in bond proposals, the largest statewide requests on Tuesday’s ballots.
Nampa’s proposed $210.2 million bond to modernize facilities and build a new high school garnered 40% voter support, well short of the 66.7% supermajority needed to approve the measure.
Kuna’s voters showed up with a bit more support (58.5%) but still well shy of the supermajority. Kuna proposed a $111.4 million bond issue for several projects, including a new elementary school, a classroom wing and athletic facilities at Swan Falls High School, and renovations at Fremont and Kuna middle schools.
“While we are disappointed in the outcome, we look forward to continuing the conversation with our communities about how to meet the needs of the children we serve in our fast-growing community,” Kuna posted on its website after the election.
Nampa’s communications director Kathleen Tuck said Wednesday that “our focus will continue to be doing our best for kids,” and directed EdNews to the superintendent’s message on Facebook.
“I wanted to come and address you after our bond election last night. First of all, thank you for getting to the polls. And thank you to all those that learned about our bond and shared information about it,” said Nampa’s superintendent Gregg Russell.
“Clearly, we heard from our community that right now is not the time for a bond, and we will continue to move forward,” Russell said in a video message.
In the biggest measure on Wednesday’s ballot, Nampa was seeking money for a host of projects, including $100 million to replace Nampa High School, $30 million for a new career and technical center, $26 million for renovations at Skyview High School, and $25.5 million to replace Centennial Elementary School.
While reflecting on Wednesday’s outcome, Kuna superintendent Wendy Johnson felt positive about her district’s outreach efforts with the community.
“We really checked all those things off. We met with 42 different groups of people, from the senior citizens center to PTAs and athletic groups,” Johnson said. “We did our homework. We had about 50 people from the community and some from staff that really helped us define what it is we needed to do in order to be ready for the students that are coming as a result of our community growing.”
Now, school administrators are starting the process of understanding why voters rejected the proposal.
“So I don’t know what we would do differently, other than we need to learn some more because of the results,” Johnson said.
One idea for gaining useful insight is using an outside organization to help develop analysis. “So we can understand,” she said. “That’s something that we haven’t done that we could do and learn from.”
In the meantime, Johnson said, the district “still needs the facilities because the growth that is coming – and is here. We’re going to need more schools to house and educate the children.”
School leaders will try to determine which factors – if any of these – shaped the bond election results.
- The price tag?
- Growing inflationary pressures?
- Is the community different?
- Have priorities changed?
“I think what I can’t answer is why,” Johnson said. “We have a little bit of a saying here … be curious, not furious or angry. We want to know why.”