Superintendents show solidarity when discussing levies

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  • Ranells

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    Larsen

OSBURN — On the most recent episode of the SNP NOW Podcast, superintendents Dr. Nancy Larsen and Dr. Bob Ranells stopped by to discuss their respective supplemental levies and to celebrate Dr. Larsen’s (29th) birthday.

A quick reminder for those reading this story that the replacement supplemental levies are continuations of current levies, and NOT something new for residents.

One more time, if you are a taxpaying resident, you are already paying on this levy.

The Kellogg School Board decided in early January to increase their levy by $305,000 per year, for a total of $5.9 million (over two years).

The Kellogg School District hadn’t done anything from a cost analysis standpoint in some time, so Dr. Larsen decided to put together a few different committees to really examine the current financial situation within the district.

“We looked at our needs and came up with an amount if we were to keep our current programs as they are. That’s how we came up with that increase in funding,” Larsen said. “The last two cycles of our supplemental levies were decreased, thinking that if we decreased it then it’s a good selling point to our patrons. But if we hadn’t decreased those, we wouldn’t have had to increase today, that’s why the little bit of bump up.”

Since the last levy election, property values have fluctuated, which has helped lessen the total amount from the patrons, but this increase will add roughly $46 more per year per $100,000 (after the homeowner’s exemption) to the current levied amount.

The levy monies in both school district’s cover the holes left after the state funding is received, which is roughly 28% of the Kellogg School District’s annual budget.

The consequences of that loss of funding would result in Kellogg essentially having to begin eliminating staff, both in the non-core and core subjects.

This would result in larger class sizes, which alters the effectiveness that the remaining teachers are able to have as they instruct.

According to Dr. Larsen, over the last decade supplemental levies have increased $100 million across the state of Idaho (Kellogg and Wallace are two of 115 school districts in Idaho who depend on supplemental levies).

“School districts no longer have supplemental levies for the extra things,” Larsen said. “They have supplemental levies for the things that need to happen. We’re part of that and no different from any of them.”

The Wallace School Board decided to run the exact same levy as they did two years ago, $3.6 million over two years.

Like Kellogg, WSD utilizes their levy monies to fill holes in state funding, but they are looking at nearly 40% of their budget.

“Our levy funds almost 40% of our general fund. It is life or death for us,” Ranells said. “As it pertains to our high school, all of our electives are funded by the levy. And at the elementary school, the district and communities decided that we want full day kindergarten, we want physical education, we want music, we want a librarian and we want a counselor at our school. Those things are not covered by the state, so we have to fund them locally. Our patrons have dutifully endorsed those things to make sure those things happen. The majority of our levy is salary and benefits for those positions.”

In a not so surprising showing of unity, both superintendents endorse the passing of each other’s levy, citing their ongoing efforts to work together, as well as acknowledging the similarities in their district.

“The amounts may be different, but the cause is the same,” Ranells said. “We tend to function amazingly well together and on most things. If we are going to talk about the subject of levies, it’s well for the Silver Valley that we are here together talking about this.”

Dr. Larsen backed up Dr. Ranells’ statement and doubled down on it.

“I think we have so much more in common than we have differences,” Larsen said. “Playing on those commonalities makes us both stronger when we cooperate in different ways. I think we’ve proven that with a couple of things that we’ve done recently.”

Please subscribe to SNP NOW, the official podcast of the Shoshone New-Press, available online at shoshonenewspress.com, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, PlayerFM and on most major podcatchers.

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