Failure of Kuna levy expected to mean cuts to district schools

In five other Treasure Valley districts, supplemental funds are approved.

broberts@idahostatesman.comMarch 12, 2014 

nampa, schools, sunny ridge, sunnyridge, lake ridge, lakeridge,

Fifth-graders at Lake Ridge Elementary School in Nampa participate in a lesson about inference in literature earlier this year. Nampa School District voters passed a levy Tuesday that will generate $6.8 million over the next two years.

FILE PHOTO/KATHERINE JONES — kjones@idahostatesman.com Buy Photo

Kuna School District could lose school days, face larger class sizes and see program reductions in 2014-2015 after voters chose not to pass a $3.19 million levy issue Tuesday.

The no vote means "parents, students and staff can expect major changes in day-to-day operations," district administrators said in a statement Wednesday morning.

Voter turned down the levy 52 percent to 48 percent. It was the only one of six Treasure Valley school district levies that failed.

Kuna school officials hoped voters would renew the levy, which would have cost residents more than $326 a year for a home with a taxable value of $100,000.

District officials will form a committee of staff and community members to consider budget cuts.

“We will move forward in continuing to plan next year’s budget in a responsible and prudent manner,” said Wendy Johnson, superintendent.

SUPPORT FOR REFORMS IN NAMPA

Two years ago the Nampa School District was mired in a deficit that never seemed to hit bottom.

It churned through superintendents and interim superintendents.

It got voter approval for a levy to help clean up a $5.3 million mess and upset parents by announcing the closing of a school just weeks later.

By the summer of 2013, Nampa schools had cut 46 teaching positions through attrition and imposed a 14-day furlough in the first of several moves to balance the budget and win back taxpayer confidence in Nampa administrators.

On Tuesday, voters responded to reforms by backing a $6.78 million supplemental levy over two years meant to restore many of the cuts the district endured after administrators in 2012 bungled budget numbers.

"This is a major step in what we needed to do this year," said Pete Koehler, interim superintendent.

Levy passage means that David Peterson, Nampa's incoming superintendent, will take over in July with more than half of the teaching positions and all of the furlough days restored.

"The new superintendent is going to be able to walk in and isn't going to have to worry about every single penny out there," Koehler said.

Nampa property owners, who tossed out former Mayor Tom Dale over issues of high taxes, were willing to increase their taxes for the school district. The levy will increase their property tax bill by $50 on a home with a taxable value of $100,000.

"We earned their trust and the faith in what we can do for their children," Koehler said.

Across the Treasure Valley, patrons of four other school districts approved their levies.

Meridian School District won renewal of a $28 million levy over two years that will keep its budget at its present level. Other districts were looking for money to help with college preparation programs, keeping teachers and running general operations.

The districts suffered financial hits when the state cut education during the recession. Lawmakers have proposed $35 million in funding increases for districts across the state next year, but that doesn't make up for all the losses they encountered.

Bill Roberts: 377-6408

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