PAYETTE – The Payette School District is asking for voter support next Tuesday in the form of a $695,000 two-year supplemental levy.
However if voters decide to say NO to increasing their taxes, members of the district say things will have to drastically change.
“We have cut, cut, cut, and there is nothing left to cut and we have used all savings,” said West Side Elementary School Principal, Marybeth Bennett.
West Side Elementary is just one item on the chopping block if the levy doesn’t pass.
Principal Bennett said what would happen is that fourth graders would go to Payette Primary School and fifth graders would attend the McCain Middle School, as West Side is only made up of those two grades.
She said due to a decrease in enrollment and funding cuts the district can’t stay afloat, so now they are turning to the community for support.
“It’s basically just to keep the lights on and help us support the programs that we currently have in the school district,” said Bennett.
Those with the district say they have already cut as much as they can. The music program at West Side Elementary went away last year, extracurricular programs have been cut at both Payette High School and McCain Middle School, custodial staff has been cut and transportation routes have been consolidated.
“There is nothing left,” said Bennett. “We are in need.”
Without that community support, the district would shift to a four-day school week, West Side Elementary would close its doors and most likely more activities, such as sports would get cut.
Bennett says it’s been hard on all schools in Idaho, but especially the smaller ones.
“Especially the rural districts or smaller districts they are hurting and they need the community support,” she said.
Bennett has spent 23 years at West Side Elementary, nine as principal and she takes pride in the school, she is hoping the community will too.
“Our area school districts are able to operate because of past levies so they are able to operate because of the support of the community, so that is what we are asking for,” said Bennett.
How much will it cost taxpayers?
The cost is based on the net taxable value of your property and a levy rate of .002140383. The estimated cost for a homeowner would be $214.04 per year or $17.84 a month if your home is valued at $100,000.
The Payette School District asked voters to approve a levy back in 2011, at that time, it did not pass and things were anticipated to get cut. However, the district reports some emergency funds from the state came through that year, and covered the financial need.
West Side Elementary school was recently named a five star school by Governor Butch Otter, setting the bar for school and student achievement.
The levy takes place March 12th at your regular polling place.