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ISJ EDITORIAL: School District 25 levy deserves your support

March 10, 2019

Over 80 percent of Idaho’s school districts use voter-approved supplemental levies to help fund their budgets.

Pocatello-Chubbuck School District 25 is one of those districts and voters will have the opportunity to approve or disapprove of the district’s $9.25 million annual supplemental levy on Tuesday.

We strongly encourage the district’s approximately 37,300 registered voters to endorse the expenditure.

It’s well-documented that Idaho’s treatment of its public education system has been inadequate, to say the least, during much of the recent past.

Our state’s public school systems including School District 25 have been left with grossly inadequate funding, not enough money to give teachers proper raises, and have had their hands tied by state mandates on how they can spend what dollars the state provides.

All of this has resulted in teachers not wanting to work in Idaho, our state gaining a reputation for being anti-education, and big companies that could drastically improve our state’s economy not wanting to locate here because of the lack of education among Idaho’s work force.

Voting to give School District 25 the $9.25 million during each of the next two years won’t reverse all of those trends.

But denying the district those funds will certainly worsen all of them.

The district has relied on these supplemental levy funds for over 60 years — testament to the fact that Idaho has not adequately funded education for decades.

The amount of the levy — $9.25 million — has been the same since 2014.

That in itself is pretty remarkable considering none of the district’s costs are decreasing. Considering School District 25’s health insurance premiums for its employees increase by at least 10 percent per year, it’s clear that our local school system stretches every dollar about as far as it will go.

The levy funds will be used by the district to enhance school security and pay for extra-curricular programs such as athletics and fine arts. The levy will also pay for school supplies such as textbooks and fixed costs such as electricity, heat and water.

Some of the money is also used to pay for teacher salaries.

Without the money, School District 25 would not be the same school district and that’s putting it politely.

The property tax hit for the district’s homeowners would be minimal if the levy passes. Most homeowners would pay between $20 and $40 per month — the same amount they’ve already been paying since 2014.

The last School District 25 levy vote in 2017 was supported by nearly 80 percent of the district’s voters.

That says something about how local residents view public education.

Sure, the levy is not going to reverse Idaho’s education woes.

But without a doubt, the levy funds will ensure that Pocatello and Chubbuck’s public schools will not take a step backward.

The polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday.

Please take the time to vote yes on the levy to show your support for School District 25 and public education in Idaho.