Get out and vote today.
If you live in eastern Idaho, you probably have an important election on your ballot. Among the issues on ballots in the area:
• A $25.6 million bond in Salmon School District 291, which would build a new school for 650 students.
• A two-year, $13.6 million supplemental levy for Idaho Falls School District 91 to pay personnel costs.
• A two-year, $4.55 million supplemental levy for Blackfoot School District 55 to pay costs for personnel and programs.
• A two-year, $580,000 supplemental levy for Ririe School District 252 to pay costs for personnel and programs.
• A two-year, $3 million supplemental levy for Fremont County Joint School District 215.
• A two-year, $1.5 million supplemental levy for Snake River School District 52.
• A two-year, $800,000 supplemental levy for Challis Joint School District 181.
• A two-year, $320,000 supplemental levy and a two-year, $203,000 plant facilities levy for Butte Joint School District 111.
• A two-year, $500,000 supplemental levy for Clark County School District 161.
Such a large number of supplemental levies, a common sight throughout the state, shows how chronically underfunded Idaho schools are, despite state budgetary improvements in recent years. In our view, this reliance on local funding exacerbates educational inequality, since it can impose very large burdens smaller or more rural district with a small tax base. If the state were fulfilling its constitutional duty “to establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools,” such levies would be a much rarer sight.
But, for now, at least, school funding is a very local issue, and it’s vital that as many local voices be heard in these elections as possible.
Bond elections like the one today are often among the lowest-participation elections. That’s highly unfortunate, because it means those with especially strong views, either in favor or against, are the main voices to be heard. Schools and taxes are among the most important issues of public policy, and a wide range of views on them should be heard. These are elections that affect your kids and your taxes.
Voters are the only ones who can fix this problem. Study the issues, the proposals and the financial costs involved. Ask your friends and neighbors how they view these bonds and levies. Read your newspaper.
And no matter how you decide to vote, make sure you vote.