March 13 – An Important Day For Boise’s Future

In 2000, Pam and I decided we wanted to move west to raise our family. My mother recently retired after 40+ years as an eighth grade science teacher in the New York and Boston public school systems and despite her chagrin at having us move so far away, her research and subsequent findings about the quality of the Boise School District was one of the key determining factors in our decision to make Boise our home. In the twelve years we’ve been here, the quality of public education in Boise has only gotten better. There’s no disputing that Boise has a school district that is recognized as one of the finest in America.

Examples include:

  • The Boise School District is among just 20 school districts in the country with four or more high schools that placed all of their traditional high schools on the Washington Post’s list of America’s Best.
  • 83% of Boise School District graduates who go on to college advance from freshman to sophomore year in college – a rate higher than any state in the U.S.
  • The Boise School District consistently outpaces the nation on the ACT and SAT, outperforms all other Idaho school districts in the National Merit Scholarship Program, and exceeds the nation on Advanced Placement exam scores.

In one week (on March 13) Boise voters will be asked to approve a temporary, five-year levy to keep class sizes low, preserve critical college and career readiness programs and maintain the high standards Boise Public School District have established. This levy will cost the average Boise homeowner about $7 per month. Without this needed investment in our local schools, 15% across-the-board cuts to District staff (230 teachers) will be made, increasing class sizes. This would be the deepest cuts to academic programs and teaching staff that Boise’s schools have ever suffered and the negative impact would be substantial.

During the past three years, state funding cuts have forced our local schools to make $22 million in budget reductions. Boise School District has responded by scaling back administrative and operational spending, shielding the classroom and preserving academic excellence. There remains a projected $14 million annual deficit beginning in 2012-2013. Our schools need our help. We are being asked very directly to help maintain the critical programs our children and grandchildren need to graduate ready for college or a good-paying job.

It is worth noting that 100% of revenue from the levy will go toward keeping class sizes low and preserving the critical college preparedness and career readiness programs, not a dollar will go towards administrative costs.

I understand that any increases in taxes during a tough economy is a difficult proposition. I also subscribe to the tenant that communities need to invest in their future during both good times and bad. Having spent the majority of my career working closely with hundreds of startup companies, I am convinced that an educated workforce is the single most important ingredient necessary to foster and maintain a healthy economic ecosystem.

Look around you Boise. Micron, HP, Albertsons, Boise Cascade are all considerably smaller than they were a decade ago. Thousands of high paying jobs have been lost and they aren’t coming back. A vibrant startup community is critical for the future of our city. If young growing companies can’t recruit the majority of their employees locally, they will either move or wither and die. If Boise fails to pass this levy, I believe it will begin a malignant cycle which will have significant negative implications for our local economy in the next decade and beyond.

Whether you have kids or not, whether you’re a member of the tea party or a you’re a tree hugger, whether you’re in your twenties or your eighties; if you live in Boise the outcome of next Tuesday’s vote will affect you. Despite where one’s ideological philosophy falls, the decision to support this levy is not a political one. It’s a decision to preserve one of the key components which make Boise (in my opinion), the best small city in America to live and raise a family.

This is a defining moment for our city. How we vote on March 13 will have a significant impact on the community we all love and feel so strongly about. I urge you to A) make sure you vote next Tuesday and B) please take a few minutes and learn more:

Visit the Yes For Boise Schools Facebook Page

Visit their website

Please join me in voting Yes For Boise Schools on Tuesday March 13 to keep our schools and community strong!

About Mark Solon

To Write Is To Think...
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