Stakeholders to Nampa Schools: Don't be shy about levy

December 18, 2013 

Parents, teachers and community leaders who came to talk about a proposed supplemental levy with the Nampa School District Tuesday ended up sketching out a plan for its passage.

District officials say they need the money to restore lost education days, hire 10 teachers to replace some of the 46 that were cut through attrition at the end of the last school year, and replenish a reserve fund that ran low as the district struggled through financial problems in the 2012 and 2013 school years.

Board trustees haven’t set a levy amount or a date for the levy election.

Advice from stakeholders:

-- Don’t be timid in setting an amount: The district could seek to replace the $1.6 million levy that expires in June. Pete Koelher, district superintendent, has penciled in $2.8 million that includes updating technology and the curriculum for Idaho Core Standards. Some community members told trustees to go higher if they need to.

-- Go for a March vote: The sooner the better. Idaho has four election dates. If Nampa Schools doesn't take the March 11 date, the next time is in May, when the election would coincide with the primary where State Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, goes up against Gov. Butch Otter for the Republican party’s nominee for governor. Primary politics could be a distraction to levy voters.

-- Pick your battles: Don’t spend time trying to convince people against the levy to change their minds. “We need to appeal to the people who will vote yes,” said Anne-Marie Henning, a Nampa parent who served on the search committee for a new district superintendent.

-- Nampans need to do more: Caldwell School District puts $4 of property tax money into its schools for every $1 that Nampa chips in, school officials say. Nampa Schools has the lowest overall property tax rate of any school district in the Treasure Valley.

Nampa trustees are planning a town hall meeting with district residents in early January to get their views on a levy. A date for that meeting hasn’t been set.

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