Kuna population booms, schools feel impact

Kuna sees dramatic annual population increase.

KUNA - Over the last decade we've been hearing about the tremendous growth in cities like Meridian and Boise. There's another city in the Treasure Valley that has experienced growth and may have slipped under the radar - Kuna.

"We're kind of a well discovered secret now I guess," said Kuna Mayor Joe Stear.

"This is the quintessential old town USA," said Troy Behunin with Planning and Zoning.

When Behunin started working for Kuna's Planning and Zoning Department eight and a half years ago, the population was just over 11,000. Now, he says, it's just under 20,000.

"It's about 73 percent growth in eight and a half years," Behunin said.

With wide open spaces and plots of land, it's no wonder so many people want to build homes there.

"It's just ready and waiting for development to take place," said Behunin.

Here's some perspective on just how rapidly Kuna is growing. Behunin says in 2014, 152 new homes were built. The following year, 228 homes were built. Just last year, 357 homes popped up.

"That's basically a new home permit being issued basically every single day," Behunin said.

The Timbermist subdivision is just one of a few new developments that you'll see driving through Kuna. In total, once all four phases of the subdivision are built it will provide 211 new homes.

But with all the residential growth, the commercial and retail scene hasn't quite had the time to catch up.

"As it is right at this moment you can't buy a pair of pants in the city of Kuna," Stear said.

That's about to change, however. Tractor Supply Company is opening a new store on March 18.

Officials say businesses like that usually follow rooftops.

"Now we're just getting into that prime area where a lot of people are really starting to take notice," Behunin said.

With 64 percent of Kuna's population under the age of 35, schools are feeling the impact of growth.

So there's a $40 million bond for building which will pay for maintenance and new projects. The bond will add four classrooms to Reed and Silver Trail Elementary Schools, renovate Kuna Middle School, add a new multi-purpose athletic room to the High School, build a new 500 student technical high school, and convert Teed Elementary School into a middle school.

VOTER GUIDE: March 2017 school bonds and levies

Officials say three of the city's elementary schools are at capacity and two others are nearly full.

"They're not mothballing any schools but we do need to add to some just because of the population and the number of students that were seeing coming into the valley," Stear said.

There is also a levy that will provide $2.5 million a year for two years for learning and health and safety positions. Both the bond and the levy will be voted on next Tuesday.

Stear says in the past it has been difficult to pass bonds, but what makes this case different is that the tax rate will stay the same so they are hopeful that it will pass.

Copyright 2017 KTVB


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