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District 91, 93 will have supplemental levies on March ballot

Education

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IDAHO FALLS — A $6.8 million supplemental levy will be on the ballot in March for both Idaho Falls School District 91 and Bonneville Joint School District 93.

Residents within the school district boundaries will vote on the supplemental levies on March 9. The levies would provide $6.8 million to the school districts during each of the next two years. Idaho law requires patrons to renew supplemental levies every two years, and they need a simple majority to pass.

“The levy is supplemental in name only, and we appreciate our patrons’ longtime support of this critical funding source,” D91 Superintendent George Boland said in a news release about the levy that’s been in place for more than 30 years. “The levy provides the district with critical funding to stay competitive and hire and retain the best teachers, which is becoming more and more challenging.”

District 91’s levy amount has not changed since 2003, a district news release states. The news release also explains that board members have taken several steps to reduce taxes for D91 patrons, such as refinancing the bonds patrons approved in 2012 and lowering the tax rate in the past year from $4.19 per $1,000 in assessed taxable value to $3.45.

Bonneville has had a supplemental levy in effect for about the past 10 years, according to Superintendent Scott Woolstenhulme. He says the district is asking for a $1 million increase from the $5.8 million levy that was approved by voters four years ago.

“Some of (the levy funds) go towards funding specific programs … and then some of it is used to help offset or increase the amount of funding we have, especially for salaries, and especially for our classified people (custodians, school secretaries, bus drivers),” Woolstenhulme told EastIdahoNews.com. “We use those funds to try to keep their wages competitive with starting wages with businesses around us.”

The increased levy amount is expected to increase property taxes. The previous levy was $1.42 per $1,000 of assessed taxable value, and the new levy will cost $1.67 per $1,000 of assessed taxable value.

District 93 will also have an increased plant facility levy on the ballot. Woolstenhulme says by law, the funds from plant facility levies can only be used for the maintenance or construction of buildings within a school district. The previous $2.8 million per year levy, approved in 2011, has now been increased to $3.8 million per year for the next 10 years. To pass, the levy needs above a 60 percent approval rate.

“That increase is mostly because since our voters last approved that … we’ve added quite a few more buildings,” Woolstenhulme explained. “With all that additional square footage of buildings, plus grounds we have to upkeep, is the number one reason we’re asking for an increase to those funds.”

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