After a full year of work, the Blaine County School District’s Finance Committee formally recommended that the school board pursue a levy totaling some $40 million for construction, maintenance and technology over the next 10 years, during the trustees’ regular October meeting Tuesday night.
Now, it’s up to the board to decide whether it wants to pursue a new plant facilities levy, how much to ask for and when it should be placed on the ballot next year.
The trustees haven’t made any decisions yet. First, they’ll embark on a series of public hearings to get feedback on the proposal, starting with one on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 6 p.m. at Hailey Elementary.
Trustee Rob Clayton called the proposal “fundamentally sound,” if daunting.
“It’s going to take some digesting,” he said. “We have to get our weedwhackers out, and go through this ourselves.”
The current plant facilities levy lapses in 2020, meaning the district has until the end of August to either replace it with a new one or carve out money from other funds to cover costs. It could get by for a while on carryover money, but eventually even the bare minimum catches up, according to District Finance Manager Bryan Fletcher. Setting aside new projects, Idaho requires the district to sequester $1.3 million annually for routine maintenance. It also pays another $800,000 per year in technology fees and replacement costs.
There are three election dates between now and then: March, May and August. The committee recommended the middle option.
“We think May would give us enough time to educate the public on the levy,” Len Harlig, a community member of the committee, told the trustees.
As for the committee itself, there’s no time to rest. Harlig and Ketchum investor Dan Turner, who also served on the committee, asked the board to form a new one as soon as possible to look at other long-term projects, including a potential supplemental levy, and financing a replacement building for the aging Hailey Elementary School.
“The process of these committees is so important,” Turner said. “The intellectual horsepower that exists in this community, it’s overwhelming. We’re at the point where we need to embrace that.”
The finance committee cut a wish list of more than 100 items to around 40 for its final pitch. The list is available on the school website, or at this address: bit.ly/2VufG0I.
Based on the committee’s cost estimates, here’s a summary of what each school might get out of the proposal.
• Alturas Elementary: $638,000
• Bellevue Elementary: $493,451
• Carey School: $2,587,000
• Hemingway STEAM School: $3 million
• Hailey Elementary: $2,291,020
• Silver Creek High School: $248,000
• WRHS: $3,740,958
• WRMS: $2,776,302
• Community Campus: $1,286,302
• District infrastructure: $1,960,000
• General maintenance and technology fees: $21 million