The last thing school patrons may have on their minds as they squeeze in that last barbecue or vacation of the summer is exercising their responsibility as citizens to vote. That’s why it’s so important to remind patrons that some important elections are coming up soon.
On Aug. 30, 12 school districts will be seeking voter approval for $261.4 million for a variety of education investments. Of that, $144 million would go to build or renovate school buildings, which will require a two-thirds majority for approval. Another $117 million would go to cover operating expenses at several districts, which requires a simple majority for approval.
Another important vote is on Sept. 6, the day after Labor Day, in the Boise School District where five trustee seats will be up for grabs. The winners of that election will determine the future direction of the state’s second largest school district for years to come.
In surveys, people say that the government they trust most is the one closest to them. They also repeatedly tell pollsters that their number one concern is education. Unfortunately, their voting behavior doesn’t always reflect the importance they put on who runs their schools or how they are operated.
For example, in 2020, only 6.1% of the eligible patrons in the Boise School District voted in the trustee election. And the last time a trustee election was held the day after Labor Day only 3.7% of patrons voted. That means fewer than one in ten voters are deciding the direction of one of the best school districts in the State of Idaho.
Nothing is more important to the perpetuation of our democracy than public education. Idaho’s founding fathers thought it was so important they wrote it into our state’s Constitution. Article IX, Section 1 reads, “The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of Idaho, to establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools.”
As an organization that represents more than 250 business leaders across our state, Idaho Business for Education believes that public education is essential for Idaho’s economic prosperity and quality of life. Our economy cannot flourish if we do not have skilled talent and the only way to develop that talent is through education.
If you live in the Coeur d’Alene, Boundary County, Middleton, Vallivue, Blaine County, Jerome, Madison, Plummer-Worley, Ririe, Salmon River, Buhl or Three Creek school districts, go to the district website and find out more about how to vote on Aug. 30.
If you live in the Boise School District, go to its website to find out how to vote early, get an absentee ballot or how to vote in person on Sept. 6. If you are afraid you will forget to vote after the Labor Day weekend, think about voting early or getting an absentee ballot.
All elections are important, even those that fall in the last days of summer. As Idaho employers we urge you to vote in these important elections. The future of our children, our economy and our quality of life depends on it.
— Rod Gramer is president and CEO of Idaho Business for Education.