The Coeur d’Alene School Board voted unanimously Thursday to purchase 40 acres of land near Huetter Road for $1.2 million. The land will be used for new schools in future years but is not anticipated to be used immediately.
It is located north of Prairie Avenue and east of Huetter Road in the city of Hayden and is zoned R-1, which permits schools as a special use, said district spokesman Scott Maben. Its listed owner is North Idaho Sports Complex, with John Swallow acting as managing member. Maben said the land is landlocked and not accessible by existing roads or streets.
Superintendent Steve Cook recommended the purchase. He said the district had done its due diligence, received a letter from the state tax commission granting the district authority to tax the land, and that the property appraised at or above value. Maben said funds for the purchase will come from $1 million set aside for land from the 2017 bond, and $200,000 in net income from the district’s School Plus program.
Board member Tom Hearn said the purchase was “the best thing we’ve done in a long time” regarding property for schools. “It’s an excellent purchase. We’re going to be very glad down the road that we did this.” Hearn mentioned that the district would have to ask voters to approve a bond to pay for the cost of building future schools at the property.
Board chairman Casey Morrisroe said if the district had possessed such land when voters approved a bond two years ago, the district “would be in a different place than we are today.”
“It’s a huge step in the right direction,” he added.
New board member Jennifer Brumley said she supported the purchase, but that the district’s work doesn’t end with it.
“This is just one piece and we do need to be continuing to look in the northwestern section and maybe even in the northeastern section to make sure that we are providing for future growth.” Many more students will move here in the years to come, she said. “The land is out there. We need to keep an eye out for it.”
Maben concurred: “We continue to see a heavy emphasis on residential development in the northwest part of our district, and we know more families will be moving into those neighborhoods over the next few years. We need to be ready to provide for those students, whether that means adding another elementary school or building a new middle school or high school.”