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Despite what one school board member termed a disappointing turnout, patrons had a spirited discussion about Snake River School District's supplemental levy election.
Superintendent Mark Gabrylczyk began Wednesday's cottage meeting at Moreland Elementary School by outlining his vision of what some of the money raised by the $900,000 levy could provide for the district's students.
Before beginning, Gabrylczyk said, "whenever you're shooting for a levy or a bond, it becomes an emotional issue. My job is to provide you with all the options so you can make an informed decision."
Among things passage of a levy could do is pay for a Pathways to Scholarship program, pay for an auto-CAD class through Idaho State University, pay for a summer school ag program, pay to update technology for kindergarten through eighth grade, pay to subsidize dual enrollment classes through the College of Southern Idaho or increase opportunities for students in the medical and science fields.
"If you decide to pass this levy, the money will go for our kids," Gabrylczyk said. "It won't be earmarked as state money we receive is."
Board member Bill Martin pointed out, however, that paying for those programs is just a small part of the district's 'what if' scenario.
"We're buying time with this levy," Martin said, "The best case scenario without this levy is we would be $750,000 short to maintain the status quo."
Steve Reader, another board member, said, "we just want to move forward and be successful as a district and have our students be successful,
"If (the levy) passes, there will be money for some small things," Reader added.
"To borrow a government phrase, there isn't a lot of pork in this levy," Gabrylczyk added.
One patron asked what would happen if the levy does not pass. Voters will decide upon its fate on March 12.
"The last time a levy didn't pass, we closed the Pingree School," pointed out one patron. "It was ugly." That occurred in 2003.
"There is no Plan B," Reader said. "As a businessman, if this doesn't pass, I don't know what we'll do.
"If the levy doesn't pass, class sizes could increase; we could lose 10 staff members," Gabrylczyk said. "If it doesn't pass, consolidation is an option."
Another patron pointed out that the ultimate issue is, "what kind of a school district do you want to have?"
Because the meeting was poorly attended, with fewer than 30 on hand, yet another patron said, "it's going to be up to us (in attendance) to tell our neighbors about this, to help them become informed."
Gabrylczyk said district administrators will conduct another cottage meeting, probably at Snake River High School. He said they will make every effort to inform the community of that meeting.