Grantee’s comprehensive report on new Idaho education law finds “spotty” compliance

Scott Woolstenhulme, superintendent of the Bonneville School District

In 2022, the Idaho Legislature passed a new law requiring schools to write detailed election-ballot language to tell voters how they plan to spend property tax levies. With support from the Fund, Idaho Education News conducted a comprehensive investigation on how school districts were complying with the new law – and found that some school districts are providing the detailed descriptions for voters, while others are not, making it impossible for voters to know where their tax dollars are going. Senior reporter Kevin Richert surveyed more than 40 school districts and conducted follow-up interviews with more than a dozen superintendents, including one who openly admitted that his district wasn’t following the new law. Richert found that most school districts are using property tax funds for long-term investments in salaries and benefits, even though the tax levies are short-term funding and salaries are covered by other state funding. A key state legislator told Idaho Education News that the legislature may need review sections of the new law, given the findings from this reporting.