School Levy: Up for vote once again

Lindsay Gill, Staff Reporter

Every two years the Twin Falls School District asks the community to renew the $5.7 million supplemental school levy, which is approximately $6.25 per month on $100,000 taxable property value. The levy accounts for 6.3% of the school district’s income. The levy pays for security, staffing, and student programs and activities.

The last time the levy was up for a vote was in 2021 during COVID, and many residents are concerned that with the increases in property cost that the tax on property for the cost of the levy will increase. However, taxes will not be increasing. According to Dr. Brady Dickinson, Superintendent at the Twin Falls School District “…supplemental levy is a set amount, it’s 5.7 million. That’s all [Twin Falls School District] collects. So, if your property tax goes up, we just lower the rate.”  The board can choose to raise the levy total each year, but decided to keep the current set amount.

If the Twin Falls School levy were to not  pass, many Twin Falls schools will lose a portion of their staff. According to the TFSD website, this can include 70 classified staff members (teaching aides, cooks, secretaries, and custodians), 21 certified staff members (teachers and counselors), 6.5 administrators (principals, vice principals, district level administrators, and activities directors), and over 50 part-time positions like after-school activities advisors and coaches. 

School security would be reduced at certain schools. The school district “probably wouldn’t be able to pay for elementary security guards,” said Dr. Dickinson.

If staff members are let go, the amount of students per class will greatly increase. Non-required classes, like music and P.E., may be dropped at certain schools, reducing students’ opportunities to branch out their experiences beyond just the required classes. The school board has made a commitment to “keep class sizes as close to the recommended amount as possible”. The levy helps meet this goal. 

Mr. Scott Thompson, Vice Principal at Canyon Ridge High School “…we may have to go without programs…but maybe we don’t have [certain] athletics anymore. Maybe we don’t have certain extracurriculars.”

Activities and clubs will be greatly affected if the school levy were to not pass. While many other schools require their athletes to pay-to-play, here at Canyon Ridge, pay-to-play is not a requirement. If the levy doesn’t pass, athletes will have to pay more upfront fees to participate. Not just athletics may be affected; activities such as choir, band, drama, etc., could require fees to participate. Clubs’ budget will be cut in order to have money for more pressing issues at schools. 

There are sixteen schools in the Twin Falls School District. Three of these are high schools, which are Canyon Ridge, Magic Valley, and Twin Falls. There are four middle schools: Bridge Academy, O’Leary, Robert Stuart, and South Hills. There are 9 elementary schools which include Bickel, Harrison, I.B. Perrine, Lincoln, Morningside, Oregon Trail, Pillar Falls, Rock Creek, and Sawtooth. 

The funds provided by the school levy will be split up among all sixteen schools. If the levy were to not pass, every school in the district would be affected, some more than others. As Mr. Dickinson stated “…we have 16 schools…, it’s hard to say it would be a 100% at every school but yes every school would be impacted.”

The Twin Falls School District levy will take place on March 14, 2023. From 8 a.m to 8 p.m. Your polling place may have changed since the county no longer has a contract with the LDS churches. Check your polling place before you go vote, and don’t forget your ID. More information can be found at the Twin Falls County Elections website.

UPDATE: The supplemental levy for the Twin Falls School District passed with 1,331 votes to 709.