As a longtime resident and member of the Kuna community, I was very saddened and disappointed in the Kuna School District levy election results last week. I am also a long-time educator in the Kuna School District. It was not just the rejection of the levy proposal that bothered me, though. It was the pathetic turnout for the election.
Those results were bold evidence of the appalling disease that has spread through our community, which like a microcosm, reflects very similar symptoms apparent across our state and our nation: Apathy (defined as lack of interest or indifference). For a nation governed by the people, there sure are a lot of people sitting around waiting for someone else to do their voting, do their jobs, raise their children, pay their bills, run their lives, and make other important decisions for them. Citizenship has its perks, but with all those rights you expect to enjoy, you also have responsibilities. Apparently, it has become fashionable to let others do the mundane task of thinking and investigating issues, and then to let those others speak for us, too. Many generations have fought for our dreams and ambitions, for our right to vote and for our privileges and opportunities to live as free people. Our freedoms are in grave jeopardy if we do not take responsibility for them.
The levy election results proved to all of us that every vote does count. For a community of approximately 16,000 citizens, 5,000 of them enrolled as students in the Kuna School District, I have to ask why only about 2,000 citizens made an effort to vote on something as important as education? We could make an endless list of excuses for why people did not vote. News flash, folks: By choosing not to vote, you actually did vote! That’s right. You let someone else make the decision for you. It took only 93 votes to defeat the proposed levy. It does not matter whether you hoped the levy would pass or fail, or if you really did not care about the levy, you voted no, because 93 people made the “Silent Majority” shout out to the entire state of Idaho that the levy should be defeated. Was this because you were confused by the issues the levy addressed?
Well, dear patrons of our Kuna School District, when you sign your students up for school next August, please try not to be upset with the volunteers who are there to help with registration. We know that the fees for extra-curricular activities will prevent many students from participating, even though research shows that participation enriches their education and even creates pathways for students to learn. We know that children with learning issues find it hard to focus in those classrooms with 35 or 40 students crowded into space for 28, because fewer teachers means larger class sizes. Try not to be impatient with teachers when they truly cannot give immediate feedback on student work. Teachers have additional duties and responsibilities, and students, that make it very difficult to get all the papers and projects graded – even though they stay late or take work home every night. Act responsibly: Take a deep breath, count to ten, and remember how you voted.
Perhaps the school district should be less interested in chastising voters for the defeat and what losses the parents and students will now have to suffer and be more forthcoming with what needs the levy would have met, and provided upfront information to the voters. There are many of us voters who have no children or relative’s children in the Kuna schools and never have had, so our interest is limited in paying additional taxes without full knowledge of the use of proceeds. I also wonder why this school district needs $6.18MM over two years and the Nampa School District, which I believe is somewhat larger, only requested $6.78MM over the two years, and with less of a tax bite to the taxpayers.
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