A taxpayer group is holding a rally before the Bonneville Joint School District’s board meeting Wednesday to protest an emergency levy passed last month.
The group D93 Citizens plans to rally outside the district office at 6:30 p.m. before sitting in on that night’s board meeting. The rally is centered around the board’s decision during a special meeting on Aug. 28 to seek $2 million in extra funding through an emergency levy.
“We are sick and tired of being the most highly taxed, large school district in Idaho,” D93 Citizens spokeswoman Halli Stone said in a news release.
According to an Idaho State Department of Education document, Bonneville’s levy rate of $580 for every $100,000 in taxable property is the highest of the eight largest school districts in Idaho, of which $58 goes towards the emergency levy. The district also had the lowest market value of the eight largest school districts last year.
Idaho state law allows for school districts to request emergency levy funding every year they increase enrollment in order to help keep up with growth. Emergency levies only require school board approval to pass and do not go before voters.
The amount provided by the levy is determined by a State Department of Education formula. District 93 reported an increase of 393 students in its average daily attendance since last year. Given the current rate of state support per student attending classes, that allowed the district to request up to $2,094,690 in the levy.
Superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme said that the district has counted on the emergency levy every year for the last decade and included the $2 million in the district budget earlier this year. In the previous school year, the district received $1,822,686 from the emergency levy.
“I would say it’s not typical for school districts to do this but most districts don’t see the continued growth every year that we do,” Woolstenhulme said.
Because it had previously been counted in the district, Woolstenhulme said the levy rate is not going to increase from $580 and that not passing the levy would likely not have lowered the overall rate.
District financial officer Guy Wangsgard said the levy funds are counted as part of the operations cost for managing the needs of the growing student population.
“If you have more students, you need additional teachers, and you need computers and supplies for those teachers. It could mean that you need additional busing for those students,” Wangsgard said.
Unhappiness over high tax rates helped lead to the defeat of the district’s most recent bond proposal, as did backlash over a payment made to retiring Superintendent Charles Shackett last year without public comment. Last week, District 93 announced it would forego hiring an assistant superintendent to help recover the $191,000 given to Shackett.
Contact Brennen with news tips at 208-542-6711.