TWIN FALLS — With the March election over, two Magic Valley school districts are already thinking about ballot measures for May.
Friday was the deadline for school districts to supply ballot language to their county clerk for the May 15 election.
The Hagerman School District is seeking a plant facilities levy for school maintenance and renovation projects. The Wendell School District is seeking renewal of a supplemental levy for basic operating expenses.
May is also the primary election for county races such as commissioners, coroner, treasurer, clerk and assessor; District 5 judges; state offices for the legislature, governor and lieutenant governor; and U.S. House of Representatives.
Here are details about the school levies:
The Hagerman School District is seeking a five-year, $250,000 annual plant facilities levy.
A bond used to build the 1999 high school will be paid off in July. It means if voters approve the plant facilities levy, most property owners will see a tax reduction, Superintendent Mark Kress said.
The school district hopes to put aside about 30 percent of the levy money to help with a future building project. That means if it eventually brings a bond request to voters, it wouldn’t have to ask for as much money — and that would save on interest costs.
In two to three years, the school district wants a new building for fourth, fifth and sixth-grade classes who are currently in portable classrooms. The district purchased a lot next to the elementary school years ago, Kress said, but needs more space and hopes a property next-door will become available in the next few years.
If approved, money from the levy would also be used for projects such as repairing school buildings, replacing carpet and other maintenance needs.
And it will be used to boost school security measures, Kress said, such as installing key card readers. Students move among multiple school buildings all day, making them “almost impossible to be secure,” he said, but “we need to do some serious renovations with the outside door access.”
The school district also wants to start a food-science program for students. Using some levy money, those classrooms could be added to a part of the agriculture building that’s unfinished.
The Wendell School District will go to voters seeking a renewal of a two-year, $600,000 annual supplemental levy. It’s the same amount as the current levy and requires a simple majority to pass.
“We want to continue keeping the programs we have,” Superintendent Greg Lowe said Monday. That includes the agriculture program, which was a big emphasis in 2016 when the existing supplemental levy was approved. “We’re grateful for the support that was there.”
He doesn’t anticipate any changes in property taxes if the levy is renewed.
“A good, strong portion of (the levy) will be toward continuing our preventive maintenance throughout the district,” Lowe said.
One example of a potential project is upgrading doors and locks at the high school, which was built in 1993, to improve security. “They’re in very poor shape,” he said.
The money would also go toward projects such as repairing and replacing heating and ventilation systems at schools, fire system maintenance and maintaining school parking lots.
The school district is also looking to buy new curriculum for math and language arts for every grade to align with Common Core Standards.
“We’ve done all we can to keep up, but we’re a little behind as far as materials,” Lowe said.
There haven’t been many options to choose from until fairly recently, he added. Wendell school officials have been communicating with Twin Falls and Jerome school administrators to get insight into curriculum options.