TWIN FALLS — The Twin Falls School District will go to voters in March with a request for money to help pay for school maintenance.
The school board voted unanimously Monday night to allow the school district to proceed with asking for a 10-year, $4.75 million annual plant facilities levy. It also gave the OK for financing and restructuring existing debt.
It’s a recommendation from a school district budget advisory committee, which includes community members.
The school district has used a plant facilities levy since 1958. It’s used to pay for school building maintenance and renovation projects.
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, Superintendent Brady Dickinson said. Aside from schools that opened last year, the average age of Twin Falls campuses is 53.
The school board is slated to give final approval in January for the plant facilities levy and in February for refinancing debt.
Trustees also heard a presentation by Eric Heringer, a managing director for Piper Jaffray, about future planning for school bonds and levies. He has worked with the district on its bond and levy plans since 2002.
“A lot of what we try to do is manage the finite resources of your property taxes,” he said.
There are three types of ballot measures a school district can approach voters for: a bond, a supplemental levy used for operational expenses and a plant facilities levy for building maintenance and facility projects.
A bond requires a two-thirds supermajority to approve. A supplemental levy is a simple majority and a plant facilities levy rate varies depending on the combined levy rate.
Heringer talked with school trustees about the school district’s history of levies and bonds it has passed in recent years.
“Your debt profile is pretty straight forward, level and conservative,” he said.
The legal limit of the school district’s debt capacity is $157 million, Heringer said.
The Twin Falls School District has a real advantage to have that large of a debt capacity, Dickinson said, versus some school districts that don’t have as large of a tax base and struggle with not being able to levy what it needs for projects.
“We’re fortunate to have that in Twin Falls,” he said. “Obviously, we wouldn’t ask for that much.”
During his presentation, Heringer also talked about changes in market value in Twin Falls over the years, including nearly 14 percent growth last year.
During their meeting, trustees also:
- Heard a proposal for next school year’s calendar. The school board didn’t take action. If approved, the new school year will start Aug. 20 – a couple of days later than this year. There aren’t other major changes for students. The district wants to change the structure for October teacher in-service days, but will have to reopen negotiations with the teachers union.
- Recognized employees of the month: music teacher Benita Remaley and special education paraprofessional Leigh Ann Hamman from Lincoln Elementary School, and paraprofessional Tami Hughes and teacher Russell Burnum from Bridge Academy.
- Approved senior class trip proposals from Canyon Ridge and Twin Falls high schools. Both trips will be in April to the San Francisco area.
*Editor's note: This story was updated Dec. 12 to correct the date of when the school district first passed a plant facilities levy.