According to the Education Week Research Center, Idaho spends $8,677 per pupil, which is nearly $4,000 less than the national average. To help put this into perspective, Montana spends $14,299 per pupil, and Wyoming spends $18,090 per pupil. As you can see, Idaho is lacking major funding within the public school spectrum. What’s more is that these numbers do not account for construction or other capital spending. These numbers only include teacher and staff salaries, classroom spending, and administration.
What these numbers show is the lack of funding that districts around Idaho are currently struggling with. In order to pay teachers fairly or competitively, most districts have to take it out of their general fund accounts. If schools want to upgrade their infrastructure, schools need to come up with ways to said fund projects. This goes for upgrades to schools or to build new schools. Ultimately, Idaho does not fund districts enough for them to invest into these types of projects.
This is why school districts run levies and float bonds. School districts strongly rely on the constituents within the community to help financially support the school district. The funds that are incurred from levies help provide the district with funds to fix, repair, or even redo the infrastructure within the district. Some of the money is used to replenish the general fund. Most of the money is used for needed projects around the district. A bond is used specifically for large projects such as building a new school or facility.
I have heard many complaints about school districts running levies and floating bonds. The argument is usually about the raising of taxes and such. However, if you look at what districts have to work with, and consider the facilities that our students use on a daily basis, then maybe those small tax increases might be more purposeful. Some might argue, “Well, that’s not free public education if I have to pay for it.” The truth is you already do pay for it with federal, state, and local (property) taxes, the problem is the state’s allocation of funds. Small rural schools are not provided the same kind of funding as larger city districts. Because of this, the smaller rural districts need extra support to take care of their schools, teachers, and students.
I am sure many have heard, “It takes a village to…” you fill in the blank. Educate is one of those words you can use to finish that statement. If the city or town invests into the education of its students, not only do students get what they need to better themselves, they are provided a better environment to learn in. Education is not something that should be seen as a separate commodity within a city. Education should be encouraged, supported, and helped on all fronts. Education is not a business. Public school districts do not make a profit from levies or bonds. Districts use every penny they gain from said levies and bonds.
The next time you see a school district ask for a levy or float a bond, remember that the district is already underfunded and needs the support of the community. The money from levies and bonds ultimately go to supporting the students. Whether it's a new school, new facility, repairs to infrastructure, or safety and security, the money gained from bonds and levies provide a safe, secure, and healthy learning environment for students. We need to support our school districts and show our students that we support them by helping fund levies and bonds.