2019 Supplemental Levy ElectionMarch 12, 2019
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Q: How did the TFSD determine that it would pursue a supplemental levy?
A: The TFSD holds regular Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) meetings to make recommendations to the school board regarding budgetary needs. This committee is made up of parents, business people, retirees, people without children, property owners, TFSD staff and one board member. During the BAC’s October and November meetings, the committee discussed the need for new curriculum materials, school security personnel, and maintaining student teacher ratios and the current level of operations as a few reasons to continue with the levy. They also compared TFSD levy rates with other districts in the state and weighed the impact an increase in the levy would put on Twin Falls residents who are on fixed incomes. The School Board heard this recommendation and deliberated to make a final decision.
Q: Why did the Budget Advisory Committee recommend an increase to the amount collected by the district?
A: The Budget Advisory Committee evaluated the district’s finances and needs over the course of multiple meetings. They determined that not only did they want the district to maintain the current program offerings but also that the district needed additional funds to support three main areas.
First, the committee recognized that the TFSD has utilized roughly half a million dollars just this school year to provide security personnel at all schools and armed school resource officers at the secondary schools. To help fund the school security initiative this year, the district reduced school supply budgets. Ideally, if the levy passes, the district could restore school supply budgets and continue to provide enhanced security on all of the TFSD campuses.
Second, the committee recognized that the TFSD is still catching up on curriculum adoptions that were put off during the economic downturn. While the kindergarten through fifth-grade reading and kindergarten through eighth-grade math curriculum has been updated recently, there are many other areas that need to be addressed. For instance, science curriculum at the secondary level is over ten years old and no longer aligns with the standards from the state. An update to science curriculum can cost the district over $70,000 per grade level.
Finally, the committee believes that the district needs to increase the carryover funds that can be used in the event of another economic downturn. In 2009 during the last economic downturn, the TFSD utilized its carryover to help keep all program offerings available for students. The district’s current carryover would provide roughly half a week of operating expenses.
While there are additional needs that will not be met by the supplemental levy, the committee determined that the slight increase to the levy rate would be manageable for the community, would allow the district to continue to offer the same level of services, and would help the district address the three areas of need.
Q: Didn’t the TFSD just pass a levy last year? Why is the TFSD pursuing additional funds?
A: In 2011 the TFSD pursued a supplemental levy for the first time. This was a two year levy and helped the district weather the economic downturn. Like that first supplemental levy, every two years the current supplemental levy expires. The Twin Falls community has supported supplemental levies in 2013 ($4.5 million per year), 2015 ($4.5 million per year), and 2017 ($4.25 million per year). In 2018 the levy that the TFSD utilizes to maintain its facilities, the plant facilities levy, which is a ten-year levy, expired and was approved for renewal by the voters. By law the TFSD cannot use plant facilities levy funds for anything that doesn’t fall into very specific facilities categories.
Q: Hasn’t the state increased the amount of funding provided to local school districts? Won’t this cover the District’s costs?
A: It is true the state has increased the amount of funding provided to local school districts in recent years. The TFSD receives about three percent of any increase in funding because we enroll roughly three percent of the students in the state. These funds from the state are often targeted for specific purposes. Much of the recent increase in state funding is designated for teacher salaries and cannot be used for other purposes. If we compare the amount of state support we received per pupil ten years ago to how much we receive today, after adjusting for inflation, we are still slightly below the funding levels prior to the Great Recession.
Q: If the community passes the supplemental levy, what will the money be used for?
A: $10 million over two years ($5 million per year) is roughly 10 percent of the TFSD operating budget. Money from the supplemental levy will be used in many areas including, but not limited to, textbooks and curriculum materials, safety and security personnel, and general classroom supplies.
Q: How will the levy impact my taxes?
A: The increased amount the district would be collecting will be spread across the entire community. We estimate that taxes will increase by no more than $18 per year for $100,000 of taxable value. This estimate is based on a conservative two percent increase in the market value of our community. If the market value increases at a more profound rate, as it has in recent years (7.29 percent from 2018 to 2019 and 13.88 percent in 2017 to 2018), the tax per $100,000 could be significantly less for this levy.
Q: How will the levy improve our community?
A: Maintaining a quality education system will contribute to the economic development of our community and will help prepare the future workforce our community needs. The community’s continued support of education is one of the major factors that attracts new businesses to Twin Falls. In addition, many local businesses have struggled to recruit skilled workers. Continuing to improve education in Twin Falls will provide a “home-grown” workforce and will attract outside talent to our community.
Q: Who can vote?
A: Registered voters who have resided in the TFSD boundaries for at least 30 days prior to the election may vote in this election. If you have not registered to vote, you may register at the polls. You will need a picture ID and proof of residence. You must be a U.S. citizen and at least 18 years of age.
Q: When is the election?
A: March 12, 2019, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. In addition eligible voters have the opportunity to vote early with mail in ballots and early in person voting at Twin Falls County West, 630 Addison Ave. W.
Q: Where do I vote?
A: At your regular polling place. To determine your polling place or for more information on absentee voting, please visit www.idahovotes.gov or call Twin Falls County at 736-4004.
When and where can I hear about the supplemental levy?
When: Tuesday, February 25, 7 p.m.
Where: O’Leary Middle School Auditorium