TWIN FALLS — Voters will decide on more than $67 million in school ballot measures during a busy March election.
Monday was the deadline for school districts to supply a ballot resolution to their county clerk. Voters will weigh in March 13.
Ten school districts are pursuing a measure. That’s about half of south-central Idaho’s school districts — 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 building projects.
Supplemental levies are used to pay for basic operating expenses and require a simple majority vote to pass.
Here’s a look at how money will be used, if approved:
The Shoshone School District is pursuing two ballot measures: trying for a third time with a $6 million bond and seeking renewal of a two-year, $300,000 annual supplemental levy.
Superintendent Rob Waite wasn’t available to comment Wednesday.
In August and November 2017, Shoshone voters rejected a $6 million bond measure. The majority of voters said “yes” each time, but the tally fell short of the required two-thirds supermajority.
The bond is slated to 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 Twin Falls School District is seeking a 10-year, $4.75 million annual plant facilities levy. It requires 60 percent voter approval to pass.
The district has used a plant facilities levy since 1958. The current 10-year, $3.3 annual plant facilities levy, which voters approved in 2008, expires soon.
Despite a proposed increase to the levy amount, the tax rate is set to decrease slightly because of an increase in property valuation.
The school district has half a million more square feet of building space to maintain than it did 10 years ago.
And excluding its four newest campuses, Twin Falls schools are an average of 53 years old.
Want more information about the levy? A community meeting is slated for 7 p.m. March 1 at the Vera C. O’Leary Middle School auditorium, 2350 Elizabeth Blvd.
The Jerome School District is seeking a 10-year plant facilities levy: $650,000 annually for the first five years and $700,000 annually for the next five years.
The measure requires 60 percent approval. If voters give it a thumbs up, the tax rate is expected to remain steady.
A plant facilities levy isn’t anything new. It has been in place for about 40 years, but the dollar amount has fluctuated.
Money would be used 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.
Plus, the Jerome district is looking for land to purchase. It would be used in the future for a new school — with no timeline set at this point — to accommodate growth in student numbers.
The Kimberly School District is seeking a two-year, $250,000 annual supplemental levy. The school district hasn’t had a supplemental levy in two years.
If approved by voters, money would be used to keep operations at their current level.
“We’re mainly looking at preserving what we have,” Superintendent Luke Schroeder said Tuesday.
The last couple of years, the school district has dipped into its contingency funds, between $135,000 and $150,000 per year, to cover operational expenses.
Kimberly’s supplemental levy request is small in comparison with other school districts, Schroeder said, and with an increase in market values, “we’ll keep our overall tax levy virtually the same.”
The Blaine County School District will bring a request for a new supplemental levy to voters, but will ask for less plant facilities money.
It will “reallocate property taxes collected for schools so that more money will go into student instruction and less into buildings,” the district said in a statement last week.
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 Cassia County School District is seeking a renewal of its supplemental levy, but is asking for more than double the current amount.
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.
Buhl, Valley, Castleford and Richfield
Elsewhere across the Magic Valley, a handful of other school districts are seeking a supplemental levy renewal:
Buhl School District:
- Two-year, $350,000 annual levy
Valley School District (Hazelton):
- Two-year, $300,000 annual levy
Castleford School District:
- Two year, $350,000 annual levy
Richfield School District:
- Two-year, $275,000 annual levy