The West Ada school board, from left: trustees Mike Vuittonet, Julie Madsen, Tina Dean, Carol Sayles and Russell Joki.

Holly Beech/MP

Election day is less than a month away, and West Ada School District trustees — and the community members seeking to recall them — are concerned that the recall hubbub is overshadowing the district’s need to pass a supplemental levy.

The recall election won’t be on the Nov. 3 ballot alongside the levy — there’s not enough time to collect signatures and go through the recall process. But district trustees, recall organizers and patrons have expressed concern that the unrest in the district will turn voters off to supporting the levy.

“We’ve got to let people see that the board can work with (Superintendent Linda) Clark and move forward,” said West Ada patron Laurynda “Ryndy” Williams, who is leading an anti-recall effort. “If that levy fails, we’re going to lose academic days and teachers. It would be a disaster to lose this levy.”

The two-year, $14-million-per-year supplemental levy first passed in 2012 and was renewed by voters in 2014. The district is seeking that same support at the polls a third time on Nov. 3 because the funding expires after this school year.

The funding is largely used for instruction days and teaching positions that were cut during the recession. According to a Sept. 1 presentation by West Ada School District Finance Director Alex Simpson, the $14 million is used for:

• Nine school days ($700,000 per day): $6.3 million

• 35 teaching positions, ($60,000 salary/benefits each): $2.1 million

• General fund expenditures, such as utilities and materials: $5.6 million

The levy requires 50 percent of the votes to pass. In 2012, 53.7 percent of voters supported the levy, and support grew to 60.2 percent in 2014.

“This is so critical to our operating budget,” West Ada Trustee Russell Joki said at a special Sept. 3 meeting to discuss the levy.

At the meeting, Trustee Julie Madsen made a motion that the board commit to using the supplemental levy funds with the priority of decreasing the teacher deficit. (The district is currently about 70 teachers under the state allocation.) She also moved that the board attempt to decrease the levy amount in year two if state funding adequately increases or the district experiences savings. The motion passed unanimously.

FOR TAXPAYERS

In 2014, property owners in the district paid $99.10 per $100,000 of their taxable property value toward the supplemental levy.

The district’s total taxable property value rose to $15.3 billion this year, up from $14.1 billion last year, according to the West Ada website. That means the supplemental levy rate can go down — it’s now at $91.57 per $100,000 of taxable property value — and still generate the same amount of revenue. Property owners may see a lower levy rate but still pay the same or more in taxes because their property values have increased.

The West Ada School District has five local tax revenue streams: supplemental levy, plant facilities levy, bond, emergency levy and tort levy. (The latter two don’t require voter approval). Combined, the district’s total levy rate in 2014 was about $409 per $100,000 of taxable property value, according to the Ada County Assessor’s website.

ELECTION DAY

The supplemental levy will be on the ballot Nov. 3 along with a $12 million bond proposal from the Meridian Library District and mayoral and city council races.

The polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 3.

Oct. 28 is the last day to mail in an absentee ballot, and Oct. 30 is the last day for in-person absentee voting and early voting.

The Idaho Secretary of State’s office runs a helpful website called Idaho Votes with official forms and voting information, such as your polling place location. Visit the site at idahovotes.gov.

When you go to vote, you must present an acceptable form of picture ID, such as your driver’s license, or sign a personal identification affidavit.

The deadline to register by mail or in person before election day has passed, but you may register to vote on Nov. 3 at your polling place. Be sure to take a photo ID and proof of residency.

Comments

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.