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School board to vote on fourth supplemental levy

Dozens of school districts across Idaho have asked for supplemental levies from taxpayers, but for one district in our area, the practice has become routine.

The board of Bonneville County Joint School District 93 will move to ask voters for their fourth multimillion-dollar levy since 2007.

Superintendent Chuck Shackett and Chief Financial Officer April Burton use the same word when asked what they think of what would happen to District 93 schools without a new supplemental levy.

“It would be devastating,” Shackett said.

“It could be devastating, in my opinion,” Burton said, during a separate interview.

The board has asked local taxpayers for extra money every two years since 2007.

It first asked for $2 million per year. In 2009, that amount it jumped to $2.5 million, and $3 million in 2011.

“We’ve just had to increase it every year — our utility costs — it’s just like anything else. We have, you know, our bus fuel, things like that are continuing to go up,” Burton explained.

This is actually the first proposed levy that hasn’t increased since the last. Administrators hope that fact will go over well with board members, and possibly voters in March.

“The board will not approve anything that raises taxes,” Shackett said.

“I’m very hopeful that it will be approved,” Burton said.

Approval aside, Shackett says he’s frustrated that levies have become a key part of school funding. He thinks it’ll likely stay that way.

“It’s very misleading in the governor’s statement that he was going to increase education by an average of about 2 percent,” Shackett said. “Increasing funding 2 percent just covers the growth.”

Since three education reform laws were rejected by voters in November, roughly $40 million is left for lawmakers to figure out how to spend. That leaves administrators with plenty of questions and doubts about the future of their schools.

“We’re really in a catch-22,” Burton said. “We really don’t know what is going to happen with this year’s funding, or even next year’s funding.”

School district officials won’t say exactly what they’d cut first if there was no levy.

The school board will vote Wednesday at 7 p.m.

If the levy is approved, it will go on the ballot in March.

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