Education

School Levy Election Tuesday–Be Sure To VOTE!

A bunch of school levy elections set for Tuesday because the Idaho Legislature has shifted much of the cost of education to property owners while proclaiming legislators have “held the line” on tax hikes. They may have held the line, but only with a massive shift.

To learn where to vote following the statewide redistricting and countywide precinct adjustments, visit IDAHO VOTES. You can also call Ada County Elections at 287-6860, but the lines will probably be jammed.

The DAILY PAPER has a nice round up of school ELECTION FACTS which is worth a look. Boise voters are being asked to approve a five year, $70 million tax hike.

While there is plenty of room to manipulate the figures, we were struck that annual per–pupil expenditures ranged from $4,769 in Meridian to $7,733 in Caldwell. Boise School District spends $7,400 per student. Which begs the questions: “Are Caldwell kids nearly twice as smart as Meridian’s students? OR “Are Meridian’s administrators nearly twice as efficient as Boise’s?”

Our constitution and laws are intended to leave the education of our students and administration of public schools up to “local control.” Board members serve without pay and administer budgets equal to the cities and counties in which they exist.

The GUARDIAN previously posted a PRO-CON story on the Boise SCHOOL ELECTION.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. loser emeritus
    Mar 11, 2012, 10:52 am

    I would be very suspicious of that low ball number from the Meridian district. From personal experience, they are not known for playing fairly.

  2. Rod in SE Boise
    Mar 11, 2012, 12:23 pm

    This is on the Idaho Votes website:

    NOTICE:

    The Polling Places for the March 13th Election may be different than what appears on this website. Please contact your County Clerk’s Elections Office for information on your polling place location.

  3. Voting No !
    Mar 11, 2012, 8:51 pm

    $70 million. That’s the total cost for this levy over the five year period. The math is simple $ 14 million per year x 5 years = $ 70 million. The current Boise Schools general fund budget is about $ 186 million. The question here, why 5 years instead of 2 years like other close by Districts?

    $ 19 million. That’s approximate fund balance as of July 1, 2011 according to the Boise Schools 2011-2012 budget. Included in that amount is a hold back of approximately $ 1.8 million in case the expense budget gets busted but, as noted below, the District has had budget surpluses each year for at least the last 4 years.

    Budget surpluses. Boise Schools budget documents show the following budget surpluses: 2007 – $ 2.4 million, 2008 – $ 7.4 million, 2009 – $ 6 million, and 2010 – $ 4.6 million.

    The District says it does not have enough money. On page 1 of the Executive Summary of District’s current budget document it says “The District continues to provide for enhanced programs and initiatives, including the expansion of programs …” On pages 8 and 9 of the same document it says: “These programs include AVID, Dual Language, International Study programs and the enhancement of the advanced placement program. These programs were the only programs to increase staffing.”

    If revenues are declining, or forecasted to decline, and the budget is being cut or has been cut, why is the District enhancing or expanding programs and increasing staff?

    The District claims it has reduced positions. It may well have. My sources tell me that in one case the District claims to have eliminated the same position – twice. After the second time the position was contracted out. Trust and creditability issue here?

    On the supporters website a response to a FAQ reads “The Boise School District pays competitively in order to attract and retain administrators…”

    “Dan the Man” (District spinmeister) has been listed in the past in District documents as a Supervisor. Later he was listed as an Administrator. Same position, different title, more pay. And District says it does not have enough money.

    The District Transportation Supervisor, in their first year, is paid between $ 15,000 and $ 25,000 more than comparable positions at the Meridian School District or Valley Regional Transit. This “competitive” salary is the second highest in the State. One big difference between the Boise and Meridian Transportation Supervisors – the Boise supervisor oversees a contractor owned and operated fleet while the Meridian supervisor directly oversees a District owned and operated fleet which is larger than the Boise fleet. This is a “competitive” salary?

    Both sides agree the average classroom size will increase by 3 to 4 students if the levy does not pass.

    More than 4% of Boise Schools enrollment is from outside the District, mainly from Meridian District. This information comes from the Boise Schools budget document. Once admitted these students are basically in the District until they graduate or withdraw. They can, and have, displaced Boise District students in the classroom. This causes the Boise District to bus (at additional expense) Boise District students to another school because an out-of-district student is enrolled in the school they would normally attend.

    Join me in voting NO on Tuesday.

  4. What is astounding to me is the price tag on the Vallivue school bond election.

    Also, we passed a 1% increase in sales tax to bail out the schools just a few years back. I know the economy is in the tank but why give a $35MM tax break to the rich and corporations when the schools could use this cash.

    One more bone of contention is why does Idaho have 105 school districts in a state with only 1.5MM people? The administrative burden (called cash) for this is just plain nutty.

  5. Paul, The sales tax increase was part of Risch’s shell game. The idea was to create more stable funding for schools, so he increased the homeowner’s exemption and added the penny to the sales tax.

    The main difference between Boise and Meridian Schools are class size. While I can’t find the data on Meridian’s website, I did find a Boise Weekly article with some data.

    http://www.boiseweekly.com/boise/by-the-numbers-how-the-treasure-valleys-school-districts-add-up/Content?oid=2489750

    http://www.boiseschools.org/district_info/distclsz.html

  6. I watched the segment on the Kahn Academy on 60 Minutes last night and then I visited the Kahn website. It was a real Ah-Ha moment for me. The whole notion of teaching and learning has to change in this country and this is simply excellent.

    The aim is a world class education free of charge. Everything is broken down into small bite sized pieces and even someone my age can understand the material.

    I am not convinced more money is the answer to schools, learning and giving kids the education they need to be competitive.

  7. Paul, saw the same segment on the Kahn Academy and was totally impressed. Of course, it will never work in the real world. No unions developed this program, just a really smart guy with an ability to make things simple to understand at various levels so it’s a non starter.

    On the other hand, this is precisely the type of teaching that can be done with distance learning – and you don’t have to be graded on how nice your musical instrument made out of a kleenex box is.

  8. Voting No !
    Mar 12, 2012, 3:38 pm

    Clancy,

    Good find !

    According to page 13 (Executive Summary) of the District’s budget document (http://www.boiseschools.org/accounting/documents/budget_current/)
    Board Policy sets class size goals. Keep in mind these are goals. The specific Board Policy number is not noted. By my math, the average elementary class size goal is 24.

    The budget document also has a wealth of other information – enrollment and otherwise – if one takes the time to read, or at least skim, through it.

    The “Yes” folks have class size numbers on their website but you have to dig to find them. Like scroll (or read) through 3/4s of a page to find a link to the numbers then click on the link to actually see them. Supposedly the District provided the numbers to them. I’m guessing the District decided not to post those numbers on its website out of concern it might be perceived as advocating a position. Advocating a position is what front groups are for.

    I’m voting NO on this levy because, like Paul, I’m not convinced more money is the answer to schools, learning and giving kids the education they need to be competitive. Thanks for the line, Paul !

  9. Yes vote NO!

  10. It’s not 70 million. Has anybody here been reading the paper this past year? Talking to people going house to house? I don’t know who is responsible for pulling off this last minute piece of slander, but I’m sure the timing was planned. You can’t just make stuff up and then convince people how to vote because of untruths you’ve decided to spread.

    EDITOR NOTE– If our math is off ($14 million x 5 years= $20 million) please share your version. A reader asked several questions, but the district didn’t respond to their own advocate who wrote the “YES” view, leaving us with nothing but the ballot language to post.

  11. Voting No !
    Mar 13, 2012, 2:15 pm

    Ms Sower,

    Well, what is the total dollar amount of the levy over a 5 year period? You don’t say. Please give us your take on the number.

    The following was taken directly from the Boise Schools web page (http://www.boiseschools.org/levy/):

    “Voters in the District will be asked to approve a five year, $14 million per year supplemental levy …”

    $ 14 million PER YEAR for 5 years. Does that not equal $ 70 million dollars total?

    Or did the District not post correct information on its website?

    The Guardian did not “just make stuff up”. It’s the District’s own number. There is no “slander” here.

    Again, please give us your number.

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