School district voters approve supplemental levy

by Kurtis Workman
Press Staff Writer

The American Falls School District received another round of support from patrons in the form of a two-year supplemental levy.

Only 15.9 percent of registered voters participated in the election on Tuesday, March 12. Of the 2,769 registered voters eligible to vote in the election from Power County only 440 cast ballots.

The levy passed handily with 299 voters casting ballots in favor of the $660,000 per year supplement to the district budget; 141 people voted against the tax increase.

The school board asked for the new levy shortly after Gov. Butch Otter announced his 2013-14 state budget in January.

The school district asked for an extension of the current levy in November, but did not ask for additional funding.

In November American Falls School District Superintendent Dr. Ron Bolinger said there were two reasons for not asking for an increase and keeping the levies separate.

“At the time we asked for the first levy we had good reason to think there would be some money coming from the state, but after the governor announced his budget it was apparent there would be no additional funds coming from the state. When we decided to ask for this other levy as a separate thing because there are still questions about how levies will be affected if the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry (IACI) get their proposed personal property tax bill through. By keeping them separate we can protect these levies from the expiration clause IACI is proposing,” said Bolinger.

After the election on Tuesday, March 12, Bolinger said he was impressed with the understanding patrons have for schools locally and statewide.

“Most of the levies around the state were successful. The people of Idaho are very understanding of the funding situation schools are facing. I am so grateful for the participation in our district, and the support our patrons extend to us during a time when things are tough,” Bolinger said.

The extra funding does not completely close the gap in school funding for American Falls. Bolinger said there are still cuts to be made.

“We are still going to have to reduce our budget, and there are still tough decisions to make in that area,” said Bolinger.

Prior to the election the school district indicated that the total budget shortfall was just over $1 million, and the district was planning to make $368,000 in budget reductions through personnel reductions and reducing supply usage.

After the results of the election were announced Bolinger once again expressed his gratitude.

“We said we needed a little bit of help, and we are so grateful our voters gave us that help,” Bolinger said.

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