West Ada trustees to gauge support for levy

West Ada School District trustees decided Tuesday to leave a clear message with voters: The need for a tax levy to cover operating costs is the Legislature’s fault, not the school board’s.

Trustees plan to hold off until Thursday on making a final decision on a proposed $14 million-a-year levy for two years so it can reach taxpayers and parents. The board originally considered a Friday meeting, but changed it.

“I think we need to rally our parents’ support if we are going to affect our legislators,” said new trustee Russell “Russ” Joki.

The district will send out an electronic alert to parents and others in an effort to gauge their thoughts on the levy.

West Ada is expected to go to voters as early as November for their approval, the third time they would be asked to approve a $14 million-per-year supplemental levy since 2012.

The dollars cover nine teaching days and more than 35 staff positions lost when the Legislature cut education spending in the midst of the recession.

Though lawmakers have put some money back in the education system since then, they haven’t repaid all of the operating dollars the school district lost.

“The system of funding is woefully inadequate,” said Linda Clark, West Ada’s superintendent.

If voters OK the levy, officials say an estimated 8.4 percent increase in land values means that district voters won’t be increasing the property tax rates on their homes. The combined rates for construction bonds, maintenance and the renewed supplemental levies would remain at $399 per $100,000 of taxable value. Individual property taxes could rise or fall based on a home’s taxable value, even if the rate is unchanged.