Monday, February 14, 2011

Garden Valley School District Shoots for Supplemental Levy

Go Wolverines!
Submitted By the Garden Valley School District
Following a year that marked its reaccreditation, designation as an Idaho School of Excellence, a perfect 100% graduation rate, the best music concerts ever, and state championship level athletic teams, the Garden Valley School District now faces what most Idaho districts have dealt with the past two years – seriously declining revenue and the need to raise money to maintain its excellence.

District #71’s board of trustees voted on January 17th to take a Supplemental Levy to the district’s voters in the amount of $225,000, per year for the next two years. The election date is set by the state and will be March 8, 2011.

Like 84 other Idaho districts, the Garden Valley School District historically had a levy that supplemented its budget, but allowed it to “time out” several years ago. Even so, the district has kept programs alive and staff employed by making internal cuts along with spending down its cash reserve.

That reserve is now at the minimum required state level and revenues continue to decline. With Idaho’s state budget $800 million less than in 2007, and another large deficit again this year, the school district is facing a shortfall close to $400,000. Internal cuts of about $150,000 are already planned by the district by further trimming program budgets, not replacing positions left vacant by retirement or attrition, cutting salaries, considering furlough days, combining small classes, and reducing some staff.

Passage of the levy will raise school district property taxes generally in the $5.00 to $15.00 per month range. Passage will also allow all current school programs to continue.

The district has placed a FAQ Sheet – Frequently Asked Questions - on its web site at, in the Idaho World and here on the Garden Valley Daily News and encourages all voters to review it and to contact the district with any questions they may have.


Frequently Asked Questions – and the Answers!

1. What is a supplemental levy? It is a local tax to supplement the state funding of local school districts, generally to provide teachers, programs and educational opportunities not funded by the State. In some ways it is the best form of tax in that only people in the school district can vote on it, all of the money stays in the district, and all of the money goes to the schools.

2. Why doesn’t the State fund our programs? States fund “minimums” to ensure all public school children have access to the same basic education. Local school boards and their districts decide if they want educational opportunities above those minimums.

3. How many other districts have levies? There are 115 public school districts in Idaho and 84 currently have levies, or 73% of all districts. In 2010, voters across the state approved over $30 million in new local levies to support their school districts.
4. Why do we need a levy in the Garden Valley School District? To help maintain current programs that enhance our students’ total educational experiences.
5. Where did our money go? First, the recession. Idaho’s state budget has been reduced $800 million since 2007 due to declining revenue. Public schooling is over half of the state’s budget, and like all state agencies, we have taken huge reductions.

6. Other school districts started cutting a few years ago, why not Garden Valley? The GVSD had built up a sizeable reserve fund and the board wanted to use it to maintain the best possible education and programs for students for as long as it could. If the recession had not continued as long, we would be better positioned today. Now we have spent down the reserve maintaining programs which we must either cut or increase our revenue.

7. What have we done? Each year that cuts were made by the State, we worked to cover it, and protect teachers’ salaries and most benefits, while maintaining strong electives such as music, foreign language, art, and our full range of athletics and activities.

8. Have we made any cuts? Absolutely. We reduced and capped health care contributions, ended a personal benefit funded program, reduced our athletic budget (twice), froze all salaries, froze continuing education reimbursements, reduced part-time employees, reduced the maintenance and custodial staff, and reduced our expenditures for supplies. In addition, our move to a 4-day class schedule reduced some costs.

9. Can we fix the problem by assessing fees? Not nearly enough. We approved an athletics and activity participation fee this year, and a fee to partially fund our Pre-School. But we cannot legally charge participation fees in programs such as Art and Music, Foreign Language, Computer technology, etc.

10. What is the district’s budget and how big is the problem? In round numbers we receive just under $2 million a year in revenue, and our expenditures are about $2.3 million. We have been making cuts, and covering the deficit with our reserve. Our reserve is now depleted to the point we must make larger cuts, and increase our revenue.

11. How much do we need? The district’s Board of Trustees has set the levy amount at $225,000 per year for two years. That amount along with further school budget reductions in the amount of $150,000-$200,000 should stabilize us as the economy hopefully continues to improve.

12. What am I voting for – will this save music, art, athletics, etc? We hope so. Our best estimates are that we can make the necessary reductions through employee retirements, decreasing administrative costs by reducing and combining some positions, increasing some elementary class sizes, making the Pre-School self-supporting, and other in-house reductions. That would preserve all current programs offered in the school district.

13. Who votes? Only registered voters in the Garden Valley School District.

14. Tell me again where the money goes. 100% of the new money stays in your school district, and goes only to your schools.

15. Okay, what if the levy does not pass? Then we simply will not be able to maintain current programs for students. The board will be forced to cut employees, including teachers, and reduce or eliminate elective programs and activities. These actions will cause people to leave our valley, property values will decrease and local businesses will suffer.

16. What will it cost me? Depending on the assessed value of your property, the increase could be as little as about $4.00 per month, up to an average of around $13.00 a month. See grid below.




*Dollar amounts are calculated as a per month increase. *Calculations include applicable homeowner's exemption.
*Estimates are based upon data collected from the district's fiscal agent and Boise County.
*These are estimates. For an actual amount please contact the County Assessor.

Contact: Dr. Michael Tomlin
For immediate release, or
208-462-3756 X 1012


  1. What percentage of the vote do we need to pass?
    When does absentee voting start?

  2. Absentee voting started Feb. 4. Levy needs more than 50% support to pass.