District says most funds will go toward hiring teachers
By Laura Colvin
Kuna Melba News editor
Next Tuesday, Aug. 28, voters living within the boundaries of the Kuna School District will be asked to decide whether they want to pitch in and help fund district schools over the next two years.
The district is asking for $6.38 million—$3.19 million per year for two years—which it says will be used primarily to pay for staff and programs currently in place, as well as to replace teachers, staff, and programs lost as the state began decreasing and redirecting education funds over the past several years.
Most critical right now, said Superintendent Jay Hummel, is getting new teachers hired to help reduce class sizes, which, in some cases, are hovering around 40 students.
If the levy passes, Hummel said he has at least one teacher lined up for every elementary school.
“If it doesn’t pass, all we’ll do is equalize the class sizes across the district,” he said. “We’ll have a staffing pattern much like last year with very large classes across the board in grades four through 12; some places were a little better than others but still too high.”
If the levy passes, the district says it will also eliminate some class and extra-curricular fees (thus improving participation levels).
If the levy fails, the district says the result could be elimination of up 25 teachers across the district, classes of 36 or more at some grade levels, a reduction of student-teacher contact days and fewer secondary school course offerings, athletics and activity programs.
District administrators have long warned of just such a situation, and say the supplemental levy request is based on a significant loss of revenue to the district at the hands of state lawmakers who have reduced funding in some areas while redirecting and earmarking other revenues.
The result, they say, is a $4.7 million reduction in money funneled to the district’s general fund over the last two years.
Because of the way school funding is structured, Kuna is already at the bottom of the barrel in Idaho.
Administrators have been able to offset the losses with federal stimulus dollars, but that funding has now expired, as has the two-year, $1.1 million supplemental levy approved by 62 percent of voters in May 2009. That levy expired at the end of the 2010-11 school year.
A simple majority is required for passage of a supplemental levy, which can be used for any purpose.
To offset reduced funding, the district says it has implemented a number of budget cuts, including increased fees, decreased, or in some cases eliminated purchasing of text books and other curricular materials, increased class sizes and made staffing cuts.
But what will it cost?
This year, the average resident living in a home with a market value around $100,000 will be looking at approximately $180 in additional taxes.
Next year, however, could be lower—or higher—depending on how the assessments ultimately come in. As assessed values go down, property taxes increase because the levy rate goes up automatically to compensate.
Given that, good news could be on the horizon.
According the Ada County assessor’s office, the market has changed considerably in the first half of 2012; the number of homes sold is up, median sales price is up, and number of days on the market is down throughout the county
While the indicators look good, changes wont actually show in the assessments until the 2013 data is available.
In 2011, the median assessed value of a residential property within the Kuna school district in 2011 was $108,700, while the assessed market values of all properties within the Kuna school district boundaries was at $884,578,327 after a steady decline from $1,277,072,023 in 2007.
Voters in the Meridian school district in March approved a two-year, $28 million per year supplemental levy with 54 percent of the vote.
Voters in Caldwell said yes to years for $5.5 Million, and Vallivue asked for and received two years at $9 million.
Nampa voters, however, went to the polls March 13 and turned down a two-year $7.16 million supplemental school levy request, with 3,534 voting against and 2,348 in favor.
Trustees in that district will try again Aug. 28, this time asking for just a fraction of the previous amount and setting the request at $1.6 million for two years.
If Kuna’s measure passes, ballot language says funds collected will be used for expenses involved in maintaining and operating the district from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2014, including the hiring of additional teachers, reducing fees, continuing driver’s education training purchasing textbooks, curricular materials, supplies, instructional technology, equipment and providing maintenance for buildings in the district.
Hummel said the broad language allows for the school board to make decisions “without their hands tied too tightly, as issues arise.
In July, the board members voted unanimously in favor of sending the requests to voters.
On Aug. 8, only four of the five signed a letter to the editor in encouraging voter support.
Royleen Anderson did not participate.
“I was elected by the patrons to represent them,” she said in explanation. “I recognize that the schools need that money to operate, but also recognize the hard times so many people are having right now.”
Anderson said she voted in favor of putting it on the ballot because “people should have a choice.”
“I don’t necessarily not support the levy,” she said. “ But I’m not a big cheerleader of it, either.”
Ada County Polling Locations
2110 Mary Mcpherson Elementary School, 1050 E Amity Road, Meridian
2205 Valley Shepherd Church Nazarene, 150 W Maestra Drive, Meridian
2207 Crimson Point Elementary School, 1941 N Shayla Ave, Kuna
2208 Reed Elementary School, 1670 N Linder Ave, Kuna
2209 Kuna Middle School, 1360 W Boise Street, Kuna
2210 Kuna Rural Fire District Station #1, 150 W Boise Street, Kuna
2211 Kuna Library 457 N Locust Ave, Kuna
2212 Kuna Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 820 N Linder Road, Kuna
2214 Ten Mile Community Church, 4440 E Columbia Road, Meridian
Call the Ada County Clerk’s office at 287-6860 or
visit www.adaweb.net/Clerk/Elections for more information.
Canyon County Polling Locations
26 Melba Senior Center – 115 Baseline Rd. Melba
27 Lake Shore Drive Baptist Church – 8885 Lake Shore Dr., Nampa
28 Southside Blvd. Methodist Church – 5420 Southside Blvd., Nampa
29 Lake Ridge Elementary School – 615 Burke Ln., Nampa
58 Edmark Superstore – 15700 Idaho Center Blvd., Nampa
Call the Canyon County Clerk’s office at 454-7562 or
visit www.canyonco.org/Elected-Officials/Clerk/Elections.aspx for more information
Or, Click on “Where do I vote?” at www.idahovotes.gov.