Funding School Facilities

Moscow Schools Superintendent Greg Bailey says it’s the thing he talks about lot.

“Right now we are one of the hardest states in the nation to pass a bond or to build facilities,” Bailey said. “You have a super majority but we also get very minimal funding from the state.

The superintendent brought the subject up again at a May 22 luncheon hosted by the Moscow Chamber of Commerce to provide a 2019 legislative review from Idaho District 5 legislators.

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(Photo: Paul Kimmell, left, moderates the May 22 discussion between District 5 legislators (left to right) Sen. David Nelson, Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, and Rep. Bill Goesling)

“I would really like to see our legislators start looking at that seriously,” Bailey said. “You look at the facilities in our communities– about the only place that’s passing these bonds for schools are the larger communities. As we’ve told a lot of people– our newest facility just turned 50 years old this past year. There’s a need.”

“This was in our Chamber survey, if you remember, about school facilities and how we fund those” Paul Kimmell of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Committee, said. “For the Chamber business community, this is a high priority, to figure this out.”

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(Screen grab, Moscow Chamber of Commerce 2019 Legislative Priorities Survey, released December 2018)

“I actually think the superintendent from Moscow School District has the best idea of any I’ve heard,” State Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy (R-Genesee) said. “In that the state would put up some challenge dollars to help support facilities.

“I’ve spent my career as a fundraiser. Everybody likes to think that their dollar can be doubled. And so if there was a way that we could look at these facilities and have the state put up some money to be matched by the community… I think that even if you had a 60% bond…the mountain would be easier to climb if there was a match on the other side,” Nilsson Troy said.

“I think it’s really important to find different methods to fund our schools,”  Sen. David Nelson (D-Moscow) said.

“Since our Constitution was written a hundred and twenty some years ago, life has changed, and we have rural communities with really older schools that are hard to maintain, and we have new, growing communities where they have different problems on getting their schools built,” Nelson said.

The legislature deferred on having a special committee on facilities, Nelson said, in favor of Governor Brad Little’s task force on public education issues in the state.

“One step going forward is the Governor has appointed a new task force to set priorities on education, and I do know they’re taking that as one of their walking points,” Nelson said.

Governor Little announced the members of his new “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” Task Force on May 15. The group is tasked with formulating a five-year blueprint “for improvement of and investment in Idaho’s K-12 public education system,” according to information from the Governor’s Office.

The task force members include teachers, school administrators, education stakeholders, business leaders, and a bipartisan group of legislators from across the state.

Jennifer Parkins, Board Chair, Genesee Joint School District and Idaho School Boards Association President, is on the task force.

Posted May 24, 2019

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