MVSD sets 2019-20 levy at $3 million

Patron Kim Wolfrum addresses the Mountain View School District 244 board (L-R) Brad Lutz, Rebecca Warden, chair Lot Smith, Mike Dominguez and Casey Smith, at the March 18 meeting.

GRANGEVILLE – Despite voiced trepidation, Mountain View School District 244 board members voted 3-2 to set the 2019-20 levy at $3,090,048 at the Monday, March 18, meeting. Superintendent Marc Scheibe recommended the $3 million amount.

“My concern is, is it worth the risk of the levy not passing to go above the $2.6 million amount?” board chair Lot Smith asked. The board passed levies set at $2,663,246 for five years before asking for the $3 million last year. Although that amount passed, the board set the levy back to the $2.6 million amount after federal forest funds unexpectedly came through.

“If the levy does not pass, we’re going to be in a devastating position,” Lot Smith continued. “We have to think of what we need versus what the community will support.”

Scheibe said even at the $3 million amount, there will be a shortfall (less than what the district had to operate on this school year) of $1.2 million to $1.5 million.

Trustee Casey Smith said each year he wants to go “building by building and see what we can cut, but nobody wants to do that.”

“I don’t want to go backwards, Casey – but you are going to get your cuts, one way or another,” trustee Mike Dominguez said. He also let Casey Smith know he did not feel what he put in the newspaper (referring to an ad in the last week’s Free Press and Shopper) was accurate.

When Dominguez made the motion to set the levy at $3,090,048 and it was seconded by trustee Rebecca Warden, several people in the audience of about 100 questioned if they would be able to speak.

“You’re going to vote without any comments from the public?” one woman questioned.

“The ad in the newspaper invited us here,” patron Kim Wolfrum stated, referring to Casey Smith’s ad.

“That was not a statement made or endorsed by the board,” Warden said.

“Then there should have been a sign on the door tonight stating that,” Wolfrum said.

“How many people here want to talk about the levy?” Dominguez asked the crowd. At least 30 hands shot up.

“It’s just crazy to me that when we’ve had levy hearings in the past, maybe four people showed up,” Dominguez shook his head. “Now, everyone wants to discuss it.”

When one audience member spoke out with a question on how much “the full needed levy amount” would cost homeowners, saying she felt it would be supported, patron Chris Roach answered.

“Maybe some of us don’t think the answer is to keep raising taxes every year – that’s not always the answer,” he said.

“Oh, then let’s just not educate our children,” the woman said.

“This is why we cannot have this conversation here, because if I disagree, then I’m a teacher hater or don’t want what’s best for my children, and that’s not the case,” Roach emphasized.

When the vote was taken, Casey Smith took his vote call time to address some earlier meeting comments.

“What I’ve said has been twisted, mostly by the Edwards’ clown show,” he said, speaking to teacher Bernadette Edwards’ videoing of the meetings and placing them on the Central Idaho Education Association’s Facebook page. “I have never broken the code of ethics … and I’m not going to have the queen of spin [Kim Wolfrum] tell me I’m smearing teachers. I have a problem with some of the health benefits teachers get … but I promise not to oppose the levy.” With that, he voted no.

Lot Smith also voted no, and trustee Brad Lutz hesitantly voted yes, for a 3-2 vote to set the levy at $3,090,048.

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