MADISON COUNTY, Idaho (KIFI) - At the end of June, the current school levy in the Madison School district for nearly $2 million came to an end. It is a levy that has been in place for the past eight years. Now, the school district is asking for a renewal of that same levy saying a tax increase shouldn't be a result.
"What we've tried to do is be very fiscally responsible, and the money that we do receive with this levy, it will be a renewal. So it's not going to increase. I know that there are some folks that say, well, it won't increase, but if we vote it down, then we'll get that $83 back in our pocket. But I had somebody tell me the other day, a dollar on kids on students is not a wasted dollar. And so we try and take that to heart as well as we work on our our budgets and take care of things," Madison superintendent Randy Lords said.
Lords also said that levy has gone to help fund key programs the district has to benefit the students.
"The supplemental levy is to help supplement what we don't have or don't receive from the state, probably 94, 90% of our budget goes to salary and benefits for the people business. And so we feel like the levy will help us increase our spending on help us to be able to purchase additional security cameras, purchase additional computers," He said. "We're pretty much a 1 to 1 district, meaning that we have at least one computer for every student fairly close to that. We've also just recently moved fiber, taking a fiber out to two of our outlying schools, South Fork and Hibbard, which for years have been on radio waves. So now will actually be able to have fiber out to those schools, which will help increase the speed of the technology that we're putting in the schools."
Lords says the levy will also continue to fund the mental health program Madison Cares.
"$500,000 for our Madison Cares, which is a mental health program that we run in our district. And that's been in place for for several years. And it's one that benefits the community, especially with what we see with the stress anxiety that folks have and especially our youth have. And it's been it's been a program that has been very good to have in place. We'll take and do money for two furlough days and help supplement some of our salaries for our classified staff. And then the third item will be for security cameras, technology. Those are really the three focus items that we're having on hand."
He assures that if the levy doesn't pass on August 30 the Madison Cares Program will continue to be in place.
The levy also helps pay the classified workers of the district as the district budget still recovers from the Great Recession that happened in 2008.
"Back in 2008, we had the recession. And at that point, the education budget was cut over 50%. The state has done a great job with salary and benefits to try and get a more competitive wage for our teachers. But we're still at about a 2000, about a 2015, 2016 reimbursement from the state. So we have even got back up to 2022 in funding. And so that's where these levies come in and help. There's 95 districts in the state that run or have levies," Lords said.
Lords does say if the levy doesn't pass they have a plan to help keep things on track.
"The plan moving forward is if it doesn't pass, then we will. We'll sit down as a board and myself, the superintendent and talk about plans of either rerunning it at another time. So our current one expired in June. And so if it if it doesn't renew and we'll have to sit down and look at some of the projects that we've got planned and we haven't spent those dollars yet, but we've got them planned. And our timelines and probably extend those, like I said, with our parking lots, roofs, facilities, some of those things, we may not update our security cameras as quick as we as we would hope too. Security cameras are similar to computers. If you get a 3 to 5 year lifespan out of them, you're doing pretty well."
Polls will open Tuesday ,August 30 at 8 a.m. and run until 8 p.m. that evening. If you need to look up your polling place, you can do so HERE.