Idaho currently uses a system of voter-approved levies for funding local school operations. Passed into law in 2006 and funded by property taxes, the levy gives local communities the opportunity to vote every two years to supplement State and Federal funding of their school districts. However, if a levy vote isn’t passed, the levies revert to zero funding.
To help voters make informed decisions, we are sharing information about the importance of levies, what they fund (and don’t fund), and what’s at stake when the March 12, 2019 levy is voted on in Bonner County. See our post, What’s in the Levy, for more details.
Why this matters: The importance of a quality school system
We surveyed almost 600 Bonner County residents and learned the majority of you agree education is incredibly valuable.
In fact, a quality school system is the pillar of a thriving community. Strong, properly-funded school districts attract good employers, job opportunities, healthcare providers and services, and strengthen the overall community.
While each of us has a personal interest and reason for voting, we also have an obligation as citizens to mind our community and its needs.
Why do we need school levies?
Lake Pend Oreille School District (LPOSD) has an annual budget that is primarily funded by three sources of revenue:
- Local – Bonner County votes bi-annually on levies to supplement State and Federal funding
Here’s how it breaks down:
|Education Revenue per Student as of 2016|
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
In 2016, local funds accounted for 25 percent of the total revenue per student in the State of Idaho, on average.
Of the fifty states, Idaho ranks the lowest in terms of per-student revenue. That’s #50 out of 50.
While many blame the state for our lack of funding, the real gap, as you can see in the table above, is at the local level.
The state spends 63 percent of its budget on education.
They are doing all they can do to fund our schools.
The local component in Idaho is far less than what local communities around the country contribute, on average. For example, as shown in the table above, Idaho communities raise approximately $2000 per student compared with $6,000 per student that communities in other states raise.
What’s at stake?
Districts use the funding from levies for a variety of purposes, including teacher salaries and benefits, classroom technology and textbooks, and many other essentials.
It is up to us, citizens of Bonner County to stay informed and determine the future of our education system through our vote every other year on the levy. Next levy is March 12, 2019 – LEARN MORE».