by Mayor Tammy
I, like many in our community, moved to Meridian because of our quality schools nearly three decades ago. The West Ada School District (WASD) is one of the best in the State of Idaho and the largest. WASD is 385 square miles large and serves five cities and parts of two counties! Our district and teachers are a shining example – we have much to be proud of.
Beginning this week, voters in the district are being asked to weigh in on two ballot measures pertaining to schools: one to address overcrowding and the other regarding the size of classes. The two items before voters include a $95 million bond and a two-year supplemental levy of $14 million per year. The supplemental levy ballot question asks voters whether or not to renew the West Ada School District’s current $14 million supplemental levy that provides operating revenue that pays for staff, utilities, and materials. Supplemental levies must be reauthorized by voters every two years and requires a 50 percent majority to be approved.
The bond proposal would authorize the school district to complete the following projects: Build a new high school and elementary in Meridian, add 20 classrooms to Mountain View High School and expand the cafeteria, remodel and add 10 classrooms to Star Elementary, add permanent classrooms to Mary McPherson Elementary and purchase future school sites. The bond requires two thirds of votes in favor to pass.
According to WASD, the current levy rate is $377 per $100,000 of taxable property value and this will not increase if these two items are approved by voters.
While the bond and levy are before the community for consideration, the education of our children is a constitutional mandate required of the state to adequately fund. To be clear, the State of Idaho benefits from a growing area as they collect sales tax and income tax generated in these areas. However, Idaho is not necessarily reinvesting these new revenues back into the areas generating the money. Our school district receives one of the lowest per-student ratios in the state and received about forty percent less than what the Boise School District received because of the district’s charter status. That is why we have a bond for school buildings and a levy for operations on the ballot. While I have always supported our kids and their futures, moving forward we’ve got to fix this. Property taxes shouldn’t have to fill the gaps. Therefore, I will continue to advocate with our State Leaders to step up their ‘mandated’ funding to the levels needed.
Early voting for the supplemental levy and bond began yesterday (Monday, Feb. 26) and will run until Friday, Mar. 9 at Meridian City Hall (Monday – Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.). New this year, you can vote early on Saturday, Mar. 3, also from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Meridian City Hall. Or, if you are more traditional, all polling locations will be open on Tuesday, Mar. 13 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. You can find your location or request an absentee ballot by visiting idahovotes.gov.
As a thriving city we certainly face challenges, but please know that we will continue to work with and involve the school district in our future planning. This year we are working on updating our Comprehensive Plan for the community, West Ada School District will be part of that process. I hope you will join us as well! We will let you know when you have that opportunity to get involved in these efforts. But first, I urge you to let your voice be heard in the West Ada School District’s important upcoming election.
Early Voting: Feb. 26 – Mar. 9, Mon. – Fri. and Sat. Mar. 3, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Meridian City Hall
Election Day: Mar. 13, 8:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m., Polling Info: idahovotes.gov
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