NAMPA -- The March 11 election is just over a month away, and several districts in the Treasure Valley will be running supplemental levies.
Thursday, in a continued effort to be transparent with voters, folks from all facets of Nampa Schools took questions from those who will be voting on another levy in March. They say, like many other districts, they need this levy and they're not asking for bells and whistles, they're asking for nuts and bolts.
Five years ago, all funding, state, federal, grants, not quite $79 million dollars, said Nampa Superintendent Pete Koehler. Go forward five years, now we're at $68 million, yet Nampa's got 500 more kids and our requirements haven't changed. If anything, requirements for children have gone up.
Koehler said with decreased state funding, they are forced to turn to the voters to make up the difference.
At times you feel like you're a salesman, you're constantly trying to sell something to somebody, Koehler said.
Michael Ferguson was the State Chief Economist, now is the Director of the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, says what has been happening in terms of education funding in Idaho has eclipsing issues from the Great Recession.
I think ultimately it has to be described as a lack of effort on the part of the state because basically the amount of our funding effort has dropped about 25 percent since 2000, said Ferguson. We've seen just a pretty steady erosion over that almost 15 year period.
Information the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy collected shows the trends and changes. The number of districts across the state running levies has more than doubled since 2000.
The dollars associated with those levies has gone from about $60 million in 2000 to about $190 million, increasing more than three-fold.
If you just look at the dollars, we've gone from being ahead of a handful of states a decade ago to being ahead of only one state today in terms of our level of funding for schools, Ferguson said. And over the past decade, no state has committed fewer resources to public schools than Idaho. Every state has grown beyond Idaho.
Studying this issue, Ferguson says institutions of higher learning say fewer kids are college-ready.