Four Treasure Valley school districts call school-levy elections

broberts@idahostatesman.comJanuary 15, 2014 

Treasure Valley voters will be asked to approve at least $25 million in supplemental school levies over the next few months, despite a likely increase in education funding from the state. Voters will go to the polls March 11 in the Meridian, Nampa, Vallivue and Kuna school districts.

Gov. Butch Otter proposes adding $35 million to Idaho schools' coffers this year. But for many districts, their share of that money won’t come close to replacing the levies voters previously approved that are helping them pay for day-to-day school operations in response to state-aid cuts in recent past years.

Nampa School Board trustees moved Tuesday to curb furloughs and stop cutting teaching staffs by asking voters to approve a $3.39 million-per-year supplemental levy for two years. The amount is more than twice the $1.6 million annual levy that will expire this year.

If the levy passes, the additional cost would be $100 a year for a home with a taxable value of $100,000, up from $50 now.

Supplemental levies need only a simple majority to pass. Under state law, they can last for either one or two years.

The money would wipe out 14 furlough days put in place this year. The money also would allow Nampa to hire 25 teachers to replace some of the 46 positions that were cut through attrition for the 2013-14 school year.

District officials say they would audit levy funds to make certain they are used correctly, a recognition by the school officials that some people are wary of the district after its recent financial problems.

Here is a breakdown on other district levy elections approved Tuesday night:

• Meridian will ask voters to extend a $14 million levy for two more years. The supplemental levy currently costs $115.64 per year for a homeowner whose house has a taxable value of $100,000. That amount might change a bit for the new levy, but district officials haven’t yet calculated how much. Meridian expects to receive $4 million in new money from the state next year, but those dollars will need to be combined with levy money just to keep the budget at its present level, school officials say.

• Vallivue will ask voters to continue the district's $4.5 million levy for two more years. The money currently goes to keep class sizes low and to help with a college prep program for low-income students. Vallivue estimates it will receive $1 million in new revenue from the state. The current levy costs $57 for a home with a taxable value of $100,000.

• Kuna hopes voters will extend its $3.19 million levy for two years. The money has gone to pay for 71 employees and six school days. The district will get an estimated $600,000 new money from the state. The current supplemental levy costs $326.15 for a home with a taxable value of $100,000.

Bill Roberts: 377-6408

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