Opinion

Another View: Troy’s failed levy offers lessons in how to ask

There’s a lot of lessons to be learned from the Troy School District.

Both Whitman and Latah counties are traditionally very supportive of local schools, as evidenced by operating levies passing on a regular basis.

The residents of Troy showed there can be a limit to the generosity of voters.

The “Vote Yes” signs near the roadway and pleas from school officials and students weren’t enough for residents to pass the $1.2 million levy request in May.

Last week, the school board decided without the money from the levy, it had to eliminate the equivalent of eight full-time teachers, two other professionals and a handful of staff positions to save the district $850,000. Another $100,000 was cut in other areas to balance the budget.

Physical education, art, athletics and other extracurricular activities were also taken away.

Now there’s going to be another levy on the ballot in August, this time for just $995,000 – same as last year.

This amount was set at the recent board meeting, where a crowd showed up to voice comments and questions.

While this is not the position the school board wants to be in, they now have another chance to enlighten residents about what the failed levy means for their district. And why, even if the third request passes, some things will be cut because costs are going up and other revenues are falling.

In the spring, residents said they didn’t feel the district was vocal enough about exactly why the district needed $1.2 million, 20 percent more than the 2014 levy.

Now that Troy school board meetings are suddenly swelling with people, here’s an opportunity for the board members to make their case face to face with the voters.

After all, the voters knew what would happen if the levy didn’t pass. They knew about the massive cuts to staff and extracurricular activities.

It didn’t matter.

They wanted to know why their taxes had to go up so much higher than the year before.

Other school districts should take note: If this can happen in Troy, it could happen in places like Genesee, Deary, Colton and Palouse. All of those communities take great pride in their schools, as they should. But sometimes pride doesn’t outweigh a person’s pocketbook.

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