Guest Opinion

You may have heard the term, maintenance of effort, in talking to people about the upcoming school levy election. It is a term that the State of Idaho uses to describe the portion of money that is required to be spent on specific programs or projects before money can flow back to the schools from the government.

The Kamiah School District as well as all other districts, supported with state or federal money, get hit hard with maintenance of effort requirements in the areas of facilities and special education programs. Money used to meet this requirement comes directly out of the general fund, which is what is also used to provide the academic programs for the students. Last year the district was required to spend $156,000 in maintenance of effort on facilities and another $562,000 on services and education to support children with special needs.

An easy way to think about maintenance of effort is to compare it to personal insurance deductible. If we need to use our insurance, we are required to pay our deductible (maintenance of effort) before we can draw on the money to help pay for the other costs in our bill. In most cases a person shops around for the best policy with the lowest deductible. In the case of the maintenance of effort, schools are required to pay, the deductible is set by either the state or the federal government and is based on the square footage of the school buildings that support students’ education and the total number of students that require additional academic support.

In past years, the ability for schools to offset these costs and still provide a modern education, was made possible through federal forest funds and a higher rate of public education funding from the state. As both of these sources of revenue have either gone away or been reduced, the burden for meeting the basic needs and maintain a quality educational system have fallen back on the local communities through supplemental levies. All other communities in the region understand the importance of providing the students an education and the importance of what a quality school can do for the community.

As our community prepares to vote on March 13, please keep in mind our personal responsibility to pay the deductible on our educational system so that we can get the benefits that will help us to meet our needs later.

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