Last week, a Guest Opinion appeared in the Idaho Statesman encouraging voters to do their research before voting on the March 14 Boise school bond election. As trustees, we couldn’t agree more.
For more than two years, district officials and our national facilities firm DeJong-Richter have been collecting, analyzing and reporting on data from every school and building in our district. Plus, we’ve made a concerted effort to accurately communicate the results clearly to our teachers, parents, patrons and community leaders.
The overwhelming conclusion of the research, including public input, was that it was time to ask the voters to approve a bond that will reinvest in Boise’s neighborhood schools while addressing critical repairs, overcrowding and safety.
While it is not surprising that someone would choose certain data points or reports in an 11th-hour attempt to mislead the public, it is disheartening. The author of last week’s opinion did just that when he cited enrollment projections showing a decline in student population over the next 10 years.
Here are the facts about Boise’s enrollment. District enrollment has increased by about 1,200 students in 10 years; slow, steady growth compared with our neighbors to the west. When the author of the op-ed writes, “The district’s student population is shrinking,” his statement is simply not true.
The DeJong “moderate” enrollment projection report actually shows the growth slowing, followed by a period of slow decline. What the DeJong report does not include is the emergence of the Syringa Valley development east of Cole Road and south of Orchard Street. Permits for the development had not been issued at the time of the study. However, a good researcher always questions the assumptions built into or left out of any analysis.
The Syringa Valley development is slated for about 2,000 homes, all of which will be in the Boise district and within the Timberline High School boundary. In two years, the school will have at least 1,350 students, and it’s likely to have even more students as the growth in south Boise continues. Without relief in the form of additional space at Timberline, boundary changes at all four high schools will likely be necessary.
While it’s easy for someone to casually mention boundary changes to relieve overcrowding, as trustees we know that it is not only one of the most difficult decisions to make with serious consequences for our students and families, but it is at best a temporary solution to a long-term issue. This point was made loud and clear by our patrons during our public comment sessions.
We welcome and encourage you to do your research for Tuesday’s bond election. We believe we’ve done our homework and earned your trust that we will continue to do everything we can to benefit every Boise student.
Boise School District Board of Trustees: Nancy Gregory, president; Maria Greeley, vice president, and trustees A.J. Balukoff, Troy Rohn, Doug Park, Dave Wagers and Beth Oppenheimer.