Levy votes on the ballot in area school districts

By Zach Hagadone
Reader Staff

School districts around the state are seeking almost $300 million in funding from bond elections or property tax levies on Tuesday, March 9, with voters going to the polls in 46 of 115 districts. That includes the West Bonner County, Lakeland and Boundary County school districts. 

West Bonner is seeking a two-year $6.87 million supplemental levy, replacing a two-year $6 million levy in 2019 that passed by a narrow 52%. That levy expires at the end of the 2021 school year.

The new maintenance and operations levy would replace previous funding with $3,432,2579 per year for two years, dedicated to paying for teaching materials and supplies, curriculum and staff development, special education and advanced placement programs, technology and library updates, and continuing and enhancing extracurricular activities such as music, performing arts and athletics. Levy dollars also go to help provide all-day kindergarten.

The maintenance portion of the levy would be earmarked for facility heating system updates, roof repairs, crosswalk lighting and gym siding repairs at Priest River Elementary. As well as that, administrators plan to dedicate a portion of the levy funding to maintaining safe transportation and continuing to support the district’s school resource officer.

The measure headed to the ballot March 9 would cost residents an estimated $146.95 per $1,000 of assessed value — no change from the 2019-2021 levy, administrators stressed, stating, “This is not a new tax. This levy is a renewal of a tax currently being paid to fund instructional and support programs for West Bonner County School District.”

West Bonner County relies heavily on levy dollars, accounting for 25% of its revenue. The state provides 69%, while other sources account for 4% and local sources provide 2% of funding.

If approved, the West Bonner levy would go into effect July 1, 2021 and end June 30, 2023.

The Lakeland School District, in southern Bonner County, is asking voters for a $19.04 million supplemental levy — almost 30% of the district’s yearly budget, dedicated to instructional support in a wide range of areas.

Lakeland relies on its levy dollars for everything from school safety and security to technology education, all athletics and academic extracurriculars, full-day kindergarten, all curriculum materials and additional nurse time.

Taxpayers in the district would see a bill of $222 per $100,000 of assessed value — an increase from the previous levy rate of $210 per $100,000, but offset by a bond levy expected to decrease by $12 per $100,000 at the same time.

Meanwhile, Boundary County voters will also be asked to weigh in March 9 on a two-year $4.8 million replacement maintenance and operations levy. 

The levy is intended to help fund paraprofessionals and staff who support student learning; curricular materials, digital licenses and professional development; computer and technology replacements and upgrades; student transportation, field trips and all extracurricular activities; electives, humanities and courses beyond state requirements; and facilities maintenance, grounds keeping and improvements.

As with the previous levy, the new measure would cost taxpayers $187 per $100,000 of assessed value, with the district noting that about 21% of its general fund budget comes from levy dollars. The district relies on the state for 76% of its revenue, while local sources provide 2% and county revenue contributes 1%.

“Levy dollars help bridge the gap between what the state provides and what it actually costs to educate our students,” the Boundary County district officials stated. “Every school in the district benefits from the levy dollars to support student learning.”

For more information on the West Bonner County levy, visit sd83.org/levy_facts. For more information on the Boundary County levy, visit bcsd101.com/2021_m&o_levy. For election information, visit bonnercountyid.gov/departments/Elections or idahovotes.gov.

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