The voters in Mountain View School District voted overwhelmingly to defund schools last month. The no vote on the levy necessitates reducing the budget by 31 percent or roughly 1/3 of the budget. The school board of trustees apparently had no contingency plan if the levy failed, so are now trying to figure it out.
The Idaho Constitution Article IX, section 1 states that “The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it shall be the duty of the legislature of Idaho, to establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools.” Since the state legislature falls short in funding schools, especially in rural areas, virtually every school district in Idaho runs a levy every year.
For Mountain View, the levy vote came at a time when many people were laid off, their businesses shuttered or slowed down, disruption in the supply chain, drop in agricultural prices, so not the best time to ask people to commit to pay more money on their property taxes. That alone does not explain the no vote, since all of the surrounding school districts passed their levies.
The Mountain View leadership did not make their case to the public prior to the levy vote. Hundreds of people received their ballots before there was any mention of the school levy in local newspapers. I hope that in the future the district leadership will take cost-saving suggestions from the public seriously and do a much better job explaining and answering questions about the budget.
There is always room to find cost-savings in any organization. Unfortunately, the school board is using a sledgehammer instead of a chisel to cut costs because of the huge shortfall. I believe that, as a community, we should honor the promise of the Idaho Constitution to provide a uniform system of public free common schools and support the children of our communities in their education.