KAMIAH -- On Jan. 16, the Kamiah Joint School District 304 school board approved the recommendation by Superintendent Steve Higgins to run the maintenance and operations levy election for $500,000.
After lengthy discussion, the board made the decision to not increase the levy for the coming year, in favor of holding the current amount in an effort to support community expectations. In March of 2018, school district patrons supported the levy request with 58 percent approval.
“As with last year’s levy, the funds collected will support upgrades and repairs to the existing academic facility, complete projects that support student safety measures, offset costs associated with required State and Federal spending on special education and support basic operational needs,” explained Higgins.
Higgins went to say, as it was explained last year, the annual levy elections have become a reality for most schools in Idaho where 93 of 115 districts in Idaho operate on maintenance and operations levies to support basic education needs for their students.
“The Kamiah Joint School district is no different. There are many factors that force districts to ask for support from their community none being more prevalent as the reduced state support dollars,” he said. “While Idaho’s educational budget has shown growth in the post-recession years, the money allocated for discretionary spending has not kept up with the increasing cost of basic operational expenses.” He said state and federal mandates, for required spending to support special education services and the increasing cost of Medicaid, continue to climb creating pressure on the schools’ general fund. The regional trend of declining enrollment in rural schools also affects the total dollars received by the districts. While adjustments can be made in personnel, the need to maintain the capital investment in facilities and equipment is still required.
Higgins reiterated that in the event that the levy would fail, the plan to close the middle school, combining K-6 and 7-12 grades would be put in place.
As the March 12 election date gets closer, the district will hold informational meetings to provide the community a more in-depth explanation. In the meantime, contact the superintendent or any of the board members.