I have lived in the Boise School District since 1989. I’ve voted for every bond in that time. When the Statesman Editorial Board said to “trust” the school board, a red flag went up. I decided to look into the district’s proposals.
One reason given for a bond is to “address overcrowding” in the district. However, according to its own audit, the entire district’s student population is projected to decrease by at least 1,000 students by 2025.
The district claims the new schools will provide “safe classrooms” that will reflect “best practices.” Sandy Hook had safety features. But safety is a good buzzword that excites voters. We all want safe schools, but does that mean we are condemning some students to unsafe schools?
If these new schools reflect “best practices,” then are the older schools not going to produce well-educated students? The test scores at Longfellow and North would refute that notion.
Is the solution to the leaks in the roof at Amity Elementary a $13 million school? When Adams and Jefferson had leaky roofs, they built a slanted roof that solved the problem. Slanted roofs might be cheaper. The district has lots of aging school buildings, but Boise’s students seem to be receiving a good education anyway.
The map of proposed projects shows how they have strategically offered something for everyone, including classrooms for Timberline and a $17 million revamp of the old gym at Boise High, plus a performing arts center. Boise High has an auditorium that is part of what makes that building so iconic. Wendy Hartman consistently produced award-winning orchestras out of that “decrepit” old building.
The district also wants to build a new school at Highlands Elementary because it is overcrowded and not up to standards. The audit says the population of Highlands will be decreasing soon. However, there are lots of people who turn out to vote in the Boise and Timberline quadrants.
The district’s student population is shrinking, but it says it might have to change boundaries to relieve overcrowding. Today it somehow makes sense to have 1,000 students at North while East is at 80 percent capacity and Les Bois is at 66 percent. I wonder how much it would cost to move a few lines on a map?
The district’s brochure lists what the patrons get for their tax money. It’s an impressive list. And it was all achieved under the current conditions.
The district touts the fact that your tax rate will not go up. This bond will replace one that is expiring. If we pay off a bond, won’t that reduce taxes? Your tax rate won’t go up, but your taxes won’t go down, either.
I don’t care how you vote, only that you inform yourself before doing so. Click around on the district website. Take a Sunday drive around the city. But please, don’t just “trust” politicians, especially in this day and age.
Rob Blaine lives in Boise and has followed the school board for nearly three decades.