Eye On Boise

$25M fund not tapped in Luna plan

Jason Hancock, deputy chief of staff for state schools Supt. Tom Luna, explains why Luna didn't try to tap a $25 million  backup school construction fund as part of his budget proposal for schools next year. Plummer-Worley School District has applied for $11.3 million of the money. (Betsy Russell)
Jason Hancock, deputy chief of staff for state schools Supt. Tom Luna, explains why Luna didn't try to tap a $25 million backup school construction fund as part of his budget proposal for schools next year. Plummer-Worley School District has applied for $11.3 million of the money. (Betsy Russell)

Idaho has had $25 million sitting in a fund since 2006 to help school districts that absolutely can't pass school construction bonds and have met a series of qualifications. Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, asked why that fund wasn't tapped to avoid further school cuts next year in schools Supt. Tom Luna's plan. Jason Hancock, deputy chief of staff for Luna, said, "You're correct, there is that $25 million fund there," and said it was established by lawmakers as "part of the state's response to losing the schools lawsuit." The fund was designed to provide a "fail-safe," he said, "that no student in the state of Idaho needed to fear that they would be going to school in an unsafe building."

The state has now received its first application to use the fund, from the Plummer-Worley School District, which wants to tap it for an $11.3 million project. Hancock said that application's been approved, but now the district's voters must be asked once again to pass a school bond, a vote they'll take in February. If that fails to pass, then the money would come from the fund. Jaquet said she's been hearing that the Coeur d'Alene Tribe may help with the project, so the fund might not be needed for it. "I just think this is some money sitting in a pot that we should think about trying to access in these bad times," she said.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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