For those of you who think that the West Ada School District — the largest school district in the state — is concerned only with educating kids as part of its $500 million property tax increase, take a closer look:
Rolled into the levy’s $100 million career technical education (CTE) center is a proposal to finance a new government daycare center. And that daycare center is not intended for use by the general public but by West Ada School District Employees.
The district states its intention on its website, saying, “West Ada hopes to expand it's [sic] Early Childhood Education pathway by incorporating an Early Childhood Learning Center at a new CTE Center. This Early Childhood Learning Center would provide daycare to West Ada School District employees at a reduced cost to families for children 3-5 years of age.”
Think about that for a moment. The school district wants residents to raise their taxes in order to build a daycare center. They want that center to serve school district employees only. And the district wants taxpayers to also provide subsidized childcare to those employees for, you know, reasons.
How hard is it for Meridian-area residents to pay for their own childcare? And now the school district wants to make you pay for someone else’s childcare expenses? And they want taxpayers to put up enough money that the childcare services come at a reduced rate? Why should taxpayers agree to that?
And since the levy can’t be used to pay for ongoing expenses such as salaries, benefits, and various operational costs, the public will not only be on the hook for the build-out of the daycare but also for the day-to-day expenses associated with the district’s foray into childcare.
The district argues that the center will be good for students who “will get first hand [sic] experience on day-to-day operations of a child care center including tasks like record keeping, classroom management, learning techniques as well as earn a CPR credential.”
That’s the kind of experience that students could get at any daycare in the valley. And those daycares would probably be extraordinarily appreciative of it. We hear all the time from childcare centers that they’re having a difficult time finding and recruiting new employees to tend to the children in their care. Why should the West Ada School District add to their misery?
Moreover, it’s not just students that the center will attract. One can only imagine the competitive wages and benefits that the district will offer employees, much to the detriment of the struggling incumbent daycares in the area.
There are a lot of outstanding reasons to question the West Ada School District’s levy proposal, which we’ll address in turn over the coming days. But this one is one of the worst elements of the West Ada School District’s proposal, and it deserves greater scrutiny by taxpayers who are being asked to support the levy.