- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Agriculture education, business education, two elementary teaching positions and athletics led the pack of priorities as defined by those who attended a Monday night meeting in Troy.

About 40 community members, teachers, board members and students showed up at the Troy High School library to cast their vote — with stickers — to identify which positions, programs and activities they hope to see reinstated should the third and final levy of 2015 pass.

As participants arrived they were handed a set of six circular stickers and directed to three large posterboards on the library wall that listed recently cut programs and positions.

Each participant was instructed to vote for their top six.

Some lamented the limited number of votes while others couldn’t think of more than two areas they would like to see reinstated and tucked their remaining stickers into pockets.

A common refrain was surprise over the amounts attached to the positions.

The cost of teacher positions included salary and benefits — some paid for by the school and some for which teachers received “cash-in-lieu-of” payments.

Although cash, in lieu of benefits, is no longer an option for new employees, those teachers who receive it are grandfathered in, according to board members.

Cost of the choices ranged from $1,000-$3,000 for adviser positions to $68,886-$75,887 for full-time teaching positions.

“I should have been a kindergarten teacher,” said someone in the crowd hovering near the boards with stickers.

The district held the Community Input Activity Monday in the latest of numerous attempts to further understand residents’ priorities for the district after two failed levies in 2015.

The district has been in ever-increasing financial straits since the Great Recession, amplified by declining enrollment and increasing expenses.

After the failure of the district’s $1.3 million levy request, Superintendent Christy Castro told the Daily News in March, the schools’ largest-ever budget shortfall was the result of $86,000 in state funding cuts and additional expenses that included $13,000 for food service and $19,000 for special education transportation needs, as well as a desire for more personnel,

After the second levy request — of $1.2 million — failed, the district dispensed with its plan to beef up personnel and transportation and focused on bringing expenses down to bare bones.

The Troy School Board will use the information gathered from the sticker vote to create a budget for use if the third time’s the charm for Troy’s levy request — now reduced to $995,000, the same as this past year’s levy.

Board chair Dana Hoskins said she believed the situation would turn out OK in the long run.

“It’s change,” she said. “And change is always hard.”

Shanon Quinn can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to [email protected]

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(c)2015 the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho)

Visit the Moscow-Pullman Daily News (Moscow, Idaho) at www.dnews.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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