Local communities overwhelmingly supported school levies and bond issues when they went to the voting booths in early March. In all, 41 of 48 ballot measures passed as local districts sought local funding to replace resources lost as a result of drastic budget cuts at the state level. For many years, so-called supplemental levies were used on a limited basis; generally to raise funds for specific projects. However as state funding has dried up, many more districts have felt it necessary to ask their local property owners to approve additional levies in order to continue offering basic, essential education services.
IEA President Penni Cyr issued a statement praising the passage of levies around the state. That statement read, in part “we are gratified that so many local communities have stepped up to provide resources and support for their students and teachers. Everyone benefits when our children are given access to a quality education that prepares them for future endeavors.”
Two of the most noteworthy success stories relating to levies took place in Kamiah and Nampa.
This small yet bustling town located southeast of Lewiston passed a desperately needed $650,000 levy, saving the district from a discontinuation of essential services and possibly a complete shutdown. A solid voter turnout, spurred on by support from the Kamiah Education Association, led to a 56%-44% passage of the levy. The result was a huge shot in the arm for a district that has battled teacher retention issues and budget deficits. “Our community recognized the dire straits that we were facing and responded in an amazing way,” said KEA President Amy Woods. “We have great teachers and students here in Kamiah and we are thrilled that they received the support they deserve.”
Beset by financial mismanagement and budget deficits at the district level as well as personnel turnover in recent years, Nampa gained some much needed stability with the passage of a two year, $6.68 million levy. The outcome means that Nampa can restore about half of its 46 vacant teaching positions, add five classroom days back to the school calendar and bring back teacher training days that had been lost. The levy passed with 62% approval and marks the third successful levy since August of 2012.