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Interest: School Districts Pay It, or Earn It

December 13th, 2006 by Halli

While Bonneville School District 93 continues to ask for more and more money to build more and more schools (which will almost certainly be empty in a few years when the district population goes through the natural aging cycle), let’s look at an Idaho district that has a different approach.

West Side School District 202, just a few miles from Preston, has been handling their financial responsibilities very well. As a result, they have earned the trust and confidence of their patrons.

Eight or nine years ago District 202 told their patrons that they needed a new building, but preferred to save up rather than bond for it. The proposal: if voters passed an extended plant facility levy, the district would put the extra money in the bank and save until they had enough to build, and would not ask for a bond.

Voters accepted the proposal. After 7 or 8 years, the money in the bank was sufficient to pay for the new building outright. Instead of paying interest on a bond, the school district and its patrons earned interest in the bank. The result: a beautiful new school that was paid for before construction began.

We’ve already discussed school district consolidation. This post raises one of the reasons this idea will be opposed. With their fiscal responsibility, why would West Side District 202 wish to consolidate with nearby Preston District 209, which has considerable indebtedness? Similar situations exist across the state.

Consolidation still makes great sense, but the legislature will have to intervene to address unequal indebtedness.

Meanwhile, what’s stopping other districts from saving up for future needs instead of bonding? Answer: only their myopia.

Posted in Education, Idaho Falls Issues, Idaho Legislature, Taxes | No Comments »

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