On a cold and snowy election day, overall turnout was fairly weak Tuesday.
According to the Kootenai County Elections Department, 9,928 of 81,841 registered voters in the county cast ballots. That’s 12.13 percent.
Two years ago, voter turnout in school elections was 15.44 percent. And two years before that, turnout was 16.19 percent.
COEUR d’ALENE — Patrons of Coeur d’Alene School District on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a two-year, $20 million per year maintenance and operations levy.
As election results were posted on Kootenai County’s election site throughout the night, the margin of approval grew. The final numbers: 69.62 percent (4,278 voters) in favor and 30.38 percent (1,867 voters) opposed.
“This community long has supported the maintenance and operations levy for our school system, and we continue to be grateful for the generosity of voters,” said Coeur d’Alene School District communications director Scott Maben. “The levy supports all of our students in many fundamental ways, and with passage of this new two-year levy, we will be able to focus on several high priorities, including student safety, mental health wellness, teacher training and improved pay to keep quality employees in our schools."
Casey Morrisroe, chairman of the district’s board of trustees, expressed his thanks to voters.
“We surveyed the community, we listened to what they said and we put together a proposal they could support,” he said. “We’re appreciative, and now we’ve got work to do.”
Passage of the levy, which comprises 22 percent of the school district’s general fund budget, came after some intensive outreach. Information was posted on the district's website and social media, mailers were sent to registered voters, details were shared with news media and families of students and discussed in informational videos on YouTube as well as on posters and handouts in the schools. About 20 presentations were delivered by Superintendent Steve Cook and other district officials during meetings of various service clubs, community groups and other events. And of course, plenty of letters to the editor supporting the measure were published in the newspaper.
“We had an information booth at the Home and Garden Show at the fairgrounds over the weekend, and we had hundreds of people stop by, ask questions about the levy and tell us they had voted or planned to vote,” Maben said. “Overall, the response from the public was fairly positive.”
Of the annual $20 million in levy funds, $4 million per year will be used for five key issues: mental health, security, school supplies, training and teacher pay. Teacher pay alone will receive $2.5 million of that $4 million to raise wages across the district on average by 4 percent.
"We appreciate the ongoing community support, and we will endeavor to deliver on this investment in our students and staff," Maben said.