Kuna parents: Go for new levy vote

A school trustee who sent out a brochure before the vote says his opposition was 'freedom of speech.'

broberts@idahostatesman.comMarch 20, 2014 

Parents, teachers and a 12-year-old student asked Kuna School Board trustees Wednesday to give voters a second shot at passing a two-year, $6.38-million levy defeated last week by less than 100 votes.

More than 300 people who filled the Kuna High School Commons and speakers in support of a second levy vote far outnumbered those opposed during a 90-minute meeting in which people on both sides drew applause.

"I think you should be asking three times as much," said Richard Poythress. "I don't want to see a town full of idiots."

Kuna was the only Treasure Valley school district out of six where a supplement levy was beaten in the March election. School officials say the revenue loss, 11 percent of the district's budget, could result in staff cuts, larger class sizes, lost school days and changes to programs.

Trustees will meet early Friday morning to decide whether they go for a levy election at the May 20 primary. Deadline for filing the paperwork with county election offices is Friday. Trustee could also decide to hold the vote in August. The levy expires in June.

Opponents said the voters had spoken in the last election, and there was no need to ask them again. Cory Tanner, a Kuna businessman, told the board he's not satisfied that the district is watching its money closely enough. Rerunning the vote is "akin to a teenage temper tantrum."

But supporters counter that the voters were hit with misleading information in a brochure they received just days before the election and for which supporters didn't have time to respond.

They also criticized Michael Law, a Kuna board member, who worked actively against the levy.

Law defended the brochure he helped create and mail to voters as accurate. As for the allegation that he was working against the board's interest, "I think freedom of speech trumps all that," he told the Idaho Statesman after Wednesday's meeting.

Law is in his first term as a school board trustee after being elected last May. He has lived in Kuna most of his life and works for a company that does translating. He has one child in Kuna High School who could be affected by any cuts the district could make if the district doesn't get the money restored.

Levy supporters worried that losing $6.38 million will lead to larger class sizes.

Emily Hardin, a 12-year-old, told the board that when the levy passed two years ago, it made a difference at her school. "They got two new teachers," she said, and more students got help.

Parents worried that staff cuts could hit so-called nonessential personnel, such as people who supervise kids at recess.

"These are people who help keep our kids safe," said Lori Blattner, a mother with three kids in the district. "I just don't see how they cut funding without cutting those kinds of safety people."

She disagreed with Tanner about how well Kuna District watches its money. "Kuna's done a good job of looking for savings," she told the Statesman earlier this week. "I just don't see where they get any extra money to cut from the budget."

Twitter: @IDS_BillRoberts

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