Bond Election

Otto Kitsinger / AP

Idaho Republicans are trying to prevent school districts, cities and other entities from asking residents to vote on multiple, similar bond issues each year.


Idaho lawmakers are considering a bill that would force school districts, and other taxing entities, to take a year-long breather between each attempt to pass a bond.

elections, voting, vote booth
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A proposed $172 million bond to fund construction and improvements at schools across the Boise District easily passed in yesterday’s election. Officials say some of the building projects could be underway as soon as June. Many of the refurbishments and rebuilds planned by the Boise District are scheduled to be completed by fall of 2018.

Flickr Creative Commons

This week in our news series Financing The Future: Examining School Bonds And Levies, Boise State Public Radio and Idaho Education News looked at the finances and infrastructure of the Boise School District. We studied school bonds, past and present, and walked through aging buildings slated for a tear-down. We visited a career-technical high school ready to expand its programs and saw over-crowding at a dual-language immersion school.

With the March 14 bond election on the horizon, Matt Guilhem sat down with Kevin Richert to wrap up the series.

Whittier School Students Kids
Tom Michael / Boise State Public Radio

The Boise School District has been building its case for voters to approve its $172 million bond on March 14. This isn’t the first time the district has had to sell the idea of a bond. There was a bond passed in 1996 and in 2006, and a levy in 2012.

More than a decade ago, voters approved a $94 million bond. Nancy Gregory was on the Boise School Board at that time.

Idaho Ed News

For school districts across Idaho, a $709 million election day looms.

At least 45 of Idaho’s 115 school districts will seek bond issues, plant facilities levies or supplemental levies on March 14, according to Idaho Education News research. The bottom line: At least $709.2 million in ballot measures are on ballot.

Under Idaho law, school districts can run ballot measures on four election days: in March, May, August and November.

Why the logjam on March 14? Timing is certainly a factor.

Lacey Daley / Boise State Public Radio

Bonds in Idaho can be hard to pass, in part because a lot of “yes” votes are needed at the polls. So how school districts explain their need and the cost to voters is critical in a bond campaign.

In this installment of our Financing the Future Series, we take a closer look at the Boise District’s bond and why it could be a challenge to pass.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

On Feb. 9, House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding convinced the House Local Government Committee to introduce a proposal to reduce Idaho’s two-thirds supermajority.

And that’s as far as it’s likely to go. Erpelding has been told his proposal will not get a hearing. By his count, there have been 11 attempts to reduce the supermajority since 1990, and none have made it through the Legislature.

“I guess I can get in line,” Erpelding, D-Boise, said Friday.

Boise State Public Radio and Idaho Education News are partnering to produce a week-long series on how the March 14 statewide school elections affect students, communities and taxpayers.

High school junior Erin Frazer is laser-focused, moving her mouse deftly as she manipulates an image on her computer screen.

“I think Illustrator is my favorite out of all these programs,” she says.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The Boise School District says it needs renovations to its schools and is asking voters to approve a $172 million bond to pay for it all. In Meridian, voters will consider a new bond for the West Ada School District worth $160 million over 10 years. And the Kuna school district has both a bond and supplemental levy on the ballot for the March 14 election.

Matt Guilhem / Boise State Public Radio

Boise State Public Radio and Idaho Education News are partnering to produce a week-long series on how the March 14 statewide school elections affect students, communities and taxpayers.

West Ada School District

Across the state, a high-stakes school election day looms on Tuesday.

How high are the stakes? There are at least $393.3 million in bond issues and school levies on the ballot next week.

apple, fruit
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A $104 million bond that would have helped the West Ada School District address overcrowding failed Tuesday. It needed a two-thirds super majority to pass, but failed with 63 percent of the vote.

The Idaho Statesman reports the school's superintendent says overcrowding won't be going away, and the district will need to attempt the bond measure again.

Dave Bieter
Dave Bieter's Facebook Page / City of Boise

Boise Mayor David Bieter announced Friday that SkyWest Airlines is opening a maintenance facility at the Boise Airport.

During his annual State of the City speech, Bieter said the facility will use an existing hangar at the Jackson Jet Center. “While we’re not sure yet the total number of jobs, we do know they will be able to service three large planes every night,” Bieter says. “And the wages they will pay will serve a family well.”

Beth Pendergrass / Twin Falls School District

The Twin Falls School District is asking voters for $73.8 million in the form of a 25 year bond. The district says it needs the money because their elementary schools are overcrowded and their middle and high schools soon will be.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Boise’s mayor says he’s disappointed that the two bond proposals failed in his city Tuesday, but he’s also encouraged by how many residents voted for the measures. 

Boise Bonds Fail Despite Getting A Majority Of Votes

Nov 6, 2013
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Boise residents voted down two bonds Tuesday. Together they would have generated more than $30 million for the city’s fire and parks departments and for buying land to set aside as open space.

More than 60 percent of Boise voters cast ballots in favor of the bonds. But the bonds needed a two-thirds majority to pass. Fire Chief Dennis Doan wanted the $17 million from the fire bond to build a new training center and upgrade and replace some old stations.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Boise voters will decide Tuesday on a pair of bonds totaling more than $30 million. The larger of the two, at $17 million, goes toward building projects for Boise’s fire department.

If it passes, Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan will get to say goodbye to an old nemesis next to the Boise River and within sight of downtown. He looks up at a narrow five story tower while traffic roars by on the connector.

Boise Asks Voters To Approve New Debt For Parks

Nov 4, 2013
Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Boise residents will vote Tuesday on two bond proposals that total $51 million with financing fees. That translates to about $32 million in actual spending money.

The city would use some of the funds to buy more open space, likely in the foothills for instance. Money would also be used to build three new city parks and upgrade three others. 

Aaron Webb / Flickr Creative Commons

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter says his “buck a month” bond proposals will do a lot to improve livability in the city. Bieter and his staff have heard positive – and negative – feedback since he first floated the idea of a bond election back in June. In total, the bond package will cost $32.4 million.

City of Boise

The Boise City Council approved changes to the mayor’s bond proposal Wednesday, moving it one step closer to November's ballot.

The most significant change was to split the bond in two. One question will ask voters to pay more in property taxes for parks and open spaces, and the second would funnel more money to Boise's fire department.

Mayor Dave Bieter also removed funding for a new police station from the proposal. That brings the cost of the bonds down slightly.

Salmon Voters Say No To A New School For The 9th Time

May 22, 2013

The Salmon School District did not get the super majority it needed to pass a bond for a new school. 901 district voters said no to the $14.6 million dollar bond for a new combination elementary and middle school. Just 645 people said yes. This was the 9th failed bond vote for the small district on the Montana border.

Unlike previous elections this ballot had an alternate bond proposal. It was $3.6 million dollars for safety upgrades to the existing schools. Voters rejected that even more definitively; 1,184 to 354.

The Salmon School District’s middle school is unsafe according to the state of Idaho. It has structural problems and a heavy snow could cave in parts of the roof. The 940 student district on the Montana Border has been trying for years to convince voters to pay for a new building. Tuesday Salmon weighs in on the issue for the 9th time.