top story Voters pass West Ada plant facility levy for 5th decade in a row By Meridian Press staff firstname.lastname@example.org Mar 14, 2017 (…) +4 Mary Ann Ranells Greg Kreller/MP Ada County Elections Voters approved the West Ada School District’s $16-million, 10-year plant facility levy on Tuesday with 63 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results from Ada County. The levy needed 60 percent to pass. Submitted by the West Ada School District Crews replace the roof on the Christine Donnell School of the Arts. School roofs are analyzed and replaced on a 20- to 25-year cycle, and new elementary school roof costs about $700,000, according to the West Ada School District. Greg Kreller/IPT Students pass by a portable classroom at Vallivue’s West Canyon Elementary School in Caldwell. Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015. Submitted by the West Ada School District Crews replace the artificial turf on the Meridian High School football field in the summer of 2016. Voters renewed the West Ada School District’s 10-year plant facility levy on Tuesday by 63 percent of the vote. The levy needed 60 percent to pass.The vote authorizes West Ada to use up to $16 million in property taxes each year for 10 years. The funding will go toward building maintenance and the purchase of new school sites.Preliminary election results from Ada County show that 8,526 voters (63 percent) supported the levy, and 5,030 (37 percent) were against it. Voter turnout was 12.4 percent. Story continues below video × Advertisement “I’m always nervous whenever we have an election because you hate to go to your patrons and parents and ask for additional funding,” West Ada School District Superintendent Mary Ann Ranells said. “But I think they would be mad if we didn’t and we ended up with facilities that were subpar.”The West Ada School District has used a plant facility levy for 45 years. The levy approved this week is $4 million less than the levy approved 10 years ago, which authorizes up to $20 million a year and expires in July.The expiring levy has a tax rate of $118 per $100,000 of taxable property value each year, using current property values. The new plant facility levy rate, starting this summer, will be $94.30 per $100,000 of taxable property value each year.This money helps the district maintain buildings and school campuses, and to buy sites for future schools. The district anticipates that it will need to buy 10 more school sites by 2028.West Ada’s budget for capital expenses this fiscal year is $24 million, which includes $11.7 million for maintenance. The school district maintains 4.4 million square feet of building space in 56 facilities across western Ada County, according to its website.Voter Linda Skidmore, who has two daughters in fifth grade, supported the levy.“I just am passionate about education for them,” she said. “And the only way to improve it and the buildings and the programs is to pass these levies.”Chris Garvin, on the other hand, opposed the levy.“I’m not confident the money would be used wisely,” he wrote on the Meridian Press Facebook page. “I’d like to see them tighten their belts, show they are being responsible, then come back in a year or so.”Philip Neuhoff, a parent who was appointed to the school board last year, said the district is “extremely budget conscious.”“I was shocked when I got on the board about what this district does with the limited funding it has,” Neuhoff said. “We (need) to remain fiscally conservative...but I think the board has a strong commitment to that.”POTENTIAL PROJECTSOn its website, the West Ada School District has provided a list of how it could use plant facility levy revenue over the next decade:n Expanding classroom space at Renaissance High School, which has reached its capacity of 800 students.n Build gymnasiums at Spalding STEM Academy and Pioneer Elementary. Unlike the elementary schools built today, these two schools have just one facility for the gym and cafeteria.n The Meridian High School remodel has increased the school’s capacity to 2,400 students, but the auditorium only seats 125. The district wants expand the auditorium to 600 seats.n Replace the artificial turf on the football fields at Eagle and Rocky Mountain high schools.n Update and expand the gym and cafeteria at Star Elementary, built in 1959.n Remodel or replace the Meridian Middle School cafeteria.OTHER BALLOT MEASURESBOISE BONDVoters approved the Boise School District’s $172.5-million, 20-year bond with 86 percent of the vote. It needed 66.67 percent.The bond will go toward facility improvements for all 48 schools, plus major building projects for 22 schools, according to the school district’s website.The major projects will include a new school in the Harris Ranch area and an expansion of the district’s Professional-Technical Education center to offer electrical, plumbing and heating-air conditioning job-training classes.KUNA BONDVoters barely approved a proposed $40 million bond for the Kuna School District.The bond won with 67.07 percent, or 1,799 votes, 883 votes against. It needed a supermajority, or 66.67 percent of the vote.The money will be used to help the Kuna Joint School District with overcrowded classrooms and future growth. A 10-year master plan was created by a community task force formed by the district to help ease some issues administrators have seen the past couple of years.The funding includes:n $25 million for new a career and technical education high schooln $6 million to convert Teed Elementary School to a sixth-through-eighth-grade middle school, and convert Kuna Middle School to serve grades six through eight.n $5 million to add eight additional classrooms to Reed and Silver Trail elementary schools while upgrading older buildings.An additional $4 million will be used to update maintenance on all of the schools.In addition, school officials said a majority of facilities are already at or beyond capacity. For example:n Kuna High School and Kuna Middle School are over capacity.n Silver Trail Elementary, Teed Elementary and Reed Elementary schools are at capacity.n Crimson Point Elementary and Initial Point High School are near capacity. KUNA LEVYThe proposed $5 million levy for the Kuna school district was approved.It received 1,810 votes, or 67.41 percent, in support and 875 votes against.It needed a simple majority, or 51 percent of the vote.The levy will be split into $2.5 million per year for two years, paying for some of the district’s maintenance and operating costs.The district’s current total tax levy rate is $500 per $100,000 of assessed property value. That tax levy rate will stay the same in the district.VALLIVUE LEVYVoters rejected a plant facilities levy for the Vallivue school district which would have funded building renovations and repairs.The 10-year, $2 million annual levy received 851 votes for, 538 against, or 61.27 percent of the vote.It needed a super majority, or 66.67 percent, approval vote to pass.This levy would have replaced the expiring 10-year, $1 million annual plant facilities levy.MARSING BONDA $13.5 million bond, which will fund building a new middle school in the Marsing School District, passed.It received 372 votes for, 134 votes against.It received 73.52 percent of the vote. It needed a two-thirds majority approval vote to pass.The bond will be for a period of 25 years and, based on current interest rates, accrue about $8.6 million in interest.While this totals about $22.1 million, about $3.3 million is estimated to be paid in bond levy equalization payments, which is additional financial assistance from the state.In addition to building a new middle school attached to Marsing High School, the bond will fund a high school cafeteria expansion and a new library.Note: Idaho Press-Tribune staff contributed to this report. 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