Ada Co. voters to decide bonds, levies concerning schools lacking bathrooms, space

Sixty-eight teachers and staff use this tiny work room at Whittier Elementary School in Boise. The school also has 12 portable buildings, some them are 15 years old. Overcrowding is one of the big issues the Boise School Disitrict's $172 million bond wants to address in Tuesday's election. (KBOI photo)

Whittier Elementary School was originally built in 1949 for 300 students but, in 2017, is bursting at the seams with 531 students.

There are 12 portable buildings around the main building, some of them are 15 years old.

A class can have as many as 32 students in it.

Sixty-eight teachers and staff use one tiny workroom.

Guess what else in in short supply?

"We don't have enough bathrooms, if you can believe that," said Principal Fernanda Brendefur. "So we have first graders housed in one end of the school who have to walk to another end of the school for restroom time."

Students eat lunch in shifts in a cramped cafeteria.

Under the school district's $172 million bond proposal, Whittier is one of six existing schools that would be completely rebuilt.

But all 48 schools in the district would receive some facility improvement.

The Boise school district says the current tax rate would remain the same, because the 1996 bond and a previous supplemental levy will come off the tax rolls.

About a week before the election, a group called Boise Citizens for Responsible Education launched what it calls a last-minute Facebook initiative urging people to vote no on the bond.

The group's leader and only spokeswoman was out of town but texted us saying "the school district made up a wish list with every project they could find."

Not so, says district spokesman Dan Hollar.

"We've had a nationally recognized school facility auditing firm walk ever school in district. They identified critical needs," Hollar said. And he said he only heard of the group's campaign about a week ago "after an 18-month public process."

And elsewhere in Ada County:

The Kuna School District's proposed $40 million dollar bond would, among other things, add more classrooms and build a high school while keeping the current tax rate the same.

West Ada voters are being asked to reauthorize the school district's plant facility levy, which would generate $16 million in revenue each year over ten years for school maintenance and operations.

Bonds requires a two-thirds vote to pass.