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School levy helps Madison School District and Madison Cares Program

REXBURG, Idaho (KIFI) - Madison County voters passed the renewal of the Madison school District levy of nearly $2 million Tuesday. The district is thankful for the continued support of the community and hopes to use portions of the levy to continue to fund the Madison Cares Program.

"This was the first time that Madison Cares has been on the levy. So it wasn't actually a renewal for for my department. This was the first time that we'd been on the levy but super excited about it passing," Madison Cares Program director Rick Croft said.

He says the program is a big advantage to the students in the district.

"The start of school brings a lot of stress for students, a lot of anxiety for students and even for some just families. And and so for Madison cares to be a resource for for not only our students but for their families in our district that we can, you know, we can coordinate with with our respective schools and with our our school administrators and teachers. And if there are those students that are identified as needing maybe and some mental health supports, then the Madison Cares can can get involved and and start meeting with that student in our schools."

Croft says the district takes the mental health of their students very seriously.

"We believe strongly in that in order for, in order for a student, uh, to excel academically, um, we need to be taking care of their mental health. The two, go hand in hand. So that's where Madison cares can come in is, we can, assist our teachers and our school administrators with, let's let them focus on the academics."

Randy Lords the district's superintendent says the program also brings in some training as well.

"Some of that funding goes towards mental health first aid. And those mental mental health first aid classes have been taught to all of our administrators, teachers, bus drivers, most everybody that is employed by Madison School District has taken that mental health first aid and mental health first aid is a great program that helps are our folks, the adult folks in our district, be able to understand how to help students with mental health issues with those that are talking about contemplating suicide, self-harm."

The purpose of the levy wasn't just to help support the Madison Cares program though it was the first time on the ballot for the program. Lords says the levy is also going to help the district with, "The second item listed on there was to pay for two furlough days and to increase classified salaries for our classified staff. And then the third item on the levy on the ballot was for security cameras, safety upgrades, computers were adding. We've had several teachers ask us about putting cameras in their classroom, just to kind of support them. And so we're seeing more and more cameras being used in schools for protection of students, staff and teachers."

He says the passing of the levy will help provide the money to help protect the teachers and students. Especially in the prevention of emergency situations if they happen.

The district says the community can also benefit from the Madison Cares Program.

"We do a mental health for students and a mental health for adults and we offer those classes multiple times throughout the year. And sometimes the classes are full and sometimes we're got a class of two and we have to cancel."

Lords says you can sign up for those classes here.

Croft adds there is also other ways the district is promoting the mental health of the community and district.

"We put on community events like celebrate you are in our annual Celebrate You event. I start with hello campaign we do in the fall. These are events that are they're really focused on on the broader community of Rexburg and our belief is is let's you know, let's get people out, let's get people interacting, let's let's have our community visiting with each other, friends, family, community members. And if we can just have have a community event where we can bring everybody together, that that just builds resiliency, it just builds connectedness" He added, "And so in addition to all of the work we do in our schools with our students and all the work we do with families, we do feel that that's a that's a pretty important component to Madison cares is to look out for our our greater community."

While the levy was up for renewal, some of the contention was the recent passing of the school bond to help build the new elementary school. Lords explains the money for the bond can only be used for the school bond.

"Bonds can only be spent on major construction and bonds can only be spent on those items that, for example, we bonded for an elementary school. Again, if we come up short, if we come up heavy and we have extra dollars, we can't take those extra bond dollars and use them anywhere else in the district. They just go back. Levy dollars can be used for anything. Specify it in the levy. And so Madison Cares. Safety cameras, all of those things, as well as salaries and benefits."

The levy will help boost the Madison School District's budget for the next two years, where it may once again be up for renewal.

Article Topic Follows: Rexburg
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Braydon Wilson

Braydon is a reporter for Local News 8 and Eyewitness News 3.

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