By Stephen Ackerman
When the Kuna School District argued to continue the school levy voters passed in 2012, I asked a simple question: Will they put the priority toward content and curriculum and teacher support? Sadly, I am not seeing them promise to prioritize toward our children and our teachers.
Outcomes matter. Good outcomes come from prioritizing the money on content, curriculum, and teachers. Everything else – yes, everything else – is secondary. As a college teacher, I see the results of both a good K-12 education and a bad one. There is a difference, and it is painful to witness. This is especially true when a child is told they qualify to graduate and then has to take remedial courses once they get to college. Where is the accountability that goes with that additional money?
Some 44% of Kuna’s families’ schoolchildren are on reduced or no-cost lunches. This is due to a tough economy that forces people to work more hours just to stay caught up. In that kind of environment, it is not fair to ask them to keep giving up more of those hard-earned dollars if the priority is not going to be on education content, curriculum, and teachers. This is especially true when Kuna’s school district charges more per $100,000 of taxable value than every other school district in the area – except Parma.
I, and my colleagues at Parents for Advancing Education, believe there are savings we can find in the existing budget. We can do so through more centralized purchasing, more competitive bidding, and more accountability between our schools and the district. I have attended several school board meetings and am confident that Superintendent Johnson and her team can generate more savings and set tighter priorities. I have seen the examples, and I am pleased. Once that “top to bottom” review is completed and spending priorities are set, then I am open to supporting a levy. But when I see Kuna charging more money than nearly every other surrounding school district, not providing the outcomes we should, and then wanting more from our struggling families? I vote no. Thank you.
Stephen M. Ackerman teaches Economics and Political Science at the College of Idaho and at online institutions. He is the former President of Provizio, a Meridian-based industry research firm.