TWIN FALLS — Tuesday is a big Election Day for 10 south-central Idaho school districts.
They’re seeking $12.6 million in total to help pay for basic operating expenses, $82.25 million for school maintenance and $6 million for building projects.
Polling places are open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Make sure to bring identification or be prepared to sign an affidavit before voting. You can also register to vote on Election Day at your polling place.
With 10 school districts seeking funding — about half of south-central Idaho’s districts — that’s significantly more than an average election. School districts have four election dates to choose from each year.
The Twin Falls and Jerome school districts are seeking renewal of 10-year plant facilities levies used for school building maintenance and renovation projects. The Shoshone School District is trying for a third time with a $6 million bond for facility projects.
Eight school districts are seeking a supplemental levy. Of those, six are a renewal, but Blaine County and Kimberly‘s measures are new. Supplemental levies are used to pay for basic operating expenses and require a simple majority vote to pass.
Here’s what school districts are seeking:
The Twin Falls School District is seeking a renewal of its plant facilities levy. It’s asking for more money, but if the measure is approved, the tax rate would drop slightly due to an increase in property valuation.
It’s seeking a 10-year, $4.75 million annual measure. It requires 60 percent voter approval to pass.
The district’s plant facilities levy approved by voters in 2008 is for $3.3 million each year and expires this year.
The new 10-year levy would help pay for school maintenance and facility needs. Some of the greatest needs identified by the school district are: a new roof at Bickel Elementary School, moving closer to having a mobile computing device for every student, upgrading desktop computers, security access controls for schools, HVAC and asphalt replacement at several campuses, new furniture and carpet at all schools, repairs to Sawtooth Elementary School‘s roof, a new roof for Twin Falls High School‘s Roper Auditorium, enlarging the cafeteria at Twin Falls High and replacing the Vera C. O’Leary Middle School roof within the next 10 years.
Compared with 10 years ago, the school district has half a million more square feet of building space to maintain. And with the exception of its four newest campuses — Canyon Ridge High School, Rock Creek Elementary School, Pillar Falls Elementary School and South Hills Middle School — the average age of school buildings is 53.
Twin Falls voters have supported plant facilities levies for 60 years, with the first in 1958.
The Jerome School District is also seeking renewal of its 10-year plant facilities levy. It’s asking for $650,000 annually for the first five years and $700,000 annually for the next five years — a total increase of $500,000 compared with what’s in place now. The measure requires 60 percent approval.
The current levy was approved in 2008 and expires this year. If voters approve the measure, the tax rate is expected to remain roughly the same.
The school district is seeking money for projects such as replacing roofs, upgrading high school plumbing, security updates such as adding a vestibule at school front entrances, energy efficiency upgrades, replacing windows and HVAC systems, and resealing parking lots.
It’s also looking for land to purchase for a future school to accommodate enrollment growth, but there are no plans for when construction could start.
The Jerome district has relied on a plant facilities levy for more than 40 years.
Shoshone voters will decide on two ballot measures Tuesday.
For a third time, the Shoshone School District is trying again with a $6 million bond for construction and remodeling projects. It’s also seeing renewal of a two-year, $300,000 annual supplemental levy.
In August and November 2017, Shoshone voters rejected a $6 million bond. The majority of voters said “yes” each time, but the tally fell short of the required two-thirds supermajority.
If approved, the bond would pay for remodeling the existing school, constructing a new multipurpose building — including a stage and gymnasium — and a new vocational building and small building with a couple of alternative-school classrooms.
The measure would likely cost taxpayers $6.67 each month per $100,000 of taxable value.
The supplemental levy amount has remained the same since 2010.
For the first time in recent years, the Blaine County School District is seeking a new supplemental levy to help with operating expenses. In exchange, it will ask for less plant facilities money for building and maintenance projects.
If approved, the measure would reduce the existing plant facilities levy from nearly $6 million annually to $2.99 million annually for the next two years.
It would also add a two-year supplemental levy for $2.99 million annually. In total, property taxes collected by the district will remain the same.
The supplemental levy will be used specifically to help maintain class sizes and specialty classes such as art, drama, music and world languages, provide a small salary increase for employees, and fund strategic plan objectives such as outdoor education for middle schoolers.
The Kimberly School District is also seeking a new supplemental levy — a two-year, $250,000 annual measure. If approved by voters, money will be used to preserve operations.
With an increase in market values, tax rates are expected to remain about the same.
The school district hasn’t had a supplemental levy in two years. During that time, it dipped into its contingency funds — $135,000 to $150,000 each year — to help cover basic expenses.
The Cassia County School District is seeking a renewal of its supplemental levy, but is asking for more money. Voters will decide on a two-year, $1.595 million annual levy — an increase $821,000 per year.
If approved, taxpayers would pay an additional $4.50 per month per $100,000 in property valuation.
The school district plans to the use the bulk of the money for safety and curriculum. That includes hiring a school resource officer and additional school nurse, adding cameras to school buses, making sure playgrounds meet safety codes, updating furniture, new math and English curriculum, and more library books.
The Buhl School District is seeking renewal of a two-year, $350,000 annual levy. It’s a reduction compared with the current levy, $400,000 each year, so the tax rate would decrease.
Voters will decide whether to renew a two-year, $300,000 annual levy for the Valley School District in Hazelton. It’s the same amount as what’s currently in place.
The Castleford School District is seeking renewal of a two-year, $350,000 annual levy.
The Richfield School District is seeking renewal of a two-year, $275,000 annual levy. That’s $50,000 more annually, which will be used for facility maintenance and improvement.
The school district has decided, though, not to seek renewal of a 10-year, $139,000 annual plant facilities levy. Voters approved it in 2008 and it expires this year. That means in total, property owners will pay $89,000 less per year — a 24.5 percent reduction in local taxes.