For five years now, the cost of funding Idaho schools has increasingly fallen on local citizens. And once again, Idahoans in 25 communities stepped up Tuesday night to support their local schools.
Of a total of 31 bond and levy requests on the ballot across Idaho this week, 25 of them passed. This continues a trend that’s accelerated in recent years since a special one-day session of the Idaho Legislature removed school funding from local property tax rolls in 2006.
In the past five years, Idaho school districts have increased their supplemental levies by $34.8 million dollars, or 44 percent. The trend has grown as sales and income tax shortfalls have forced $200 million in state budget cuts to education.
In many cases, local levies are no longer supplemental. They’re keeping the doors open. For example, voters in Twin Falls OK’d $7.5 million to help fund two years of operational costs and restore lost student-teacher contact days.
Citizens in these districts passed their levies: Lake Pend Oreille, Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls, Marsing, Gooding, Jerome, Twin Falls, Pocatello, Bear Lake, Snake River, Blackfoot, Aberdeen, Grace, North Gem, Soda Springs, Westside, Firth, Shelley, Idaho Falls, Bonneville, Clark County, Challis, Mackay, Teton County, and Vallivue.
Levy or bond requests were not approved in Boundary County, Lewiston, Garden Valley, Homedale, Wilder, and Cassia County.
“Idaho educators are grateful for the strong show of support by local citizens in most communities that had school funding votes this week, especially as our economy struggles to recover,” said Idaho Education Association President Sherri Wood. “These voters understand that while Idaho leaders claim they won’t raise taxes, they’re actually shifting the burden of school funding onto Idaho families.”
“Most Idaho families are shouldering that burden, but our state’s leaders are leaving behind the communities that cannot,” Wood added. “Once again, this shows the need for the Legislature to follow its Constitutional mandate of funding a ‘uniform and thorough’ system of education for Idaho’s children.”