Post Falls, Lakeland school districts OK emergency levy funds to deal with growth

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School boards in the Post Falls and Lakeland districts have approved emergency levy funds to help defray the costs of increased enrollments.

Post Falls, which has increased 144 students from last year, to 6,185, approved $615,000 in one-time funds for costs associated with educating the new students, Superintendent Jerry Keane said.

The levy will pay for four new teachers, one bus, six support personnel, textbooks, desks and technology.

"Even with the emergency levy, the district tax rate will be reduced from $2.08 per thousand last year to $2.074 for this year," said Keane, adding that emergency levy funds come from property taxes. "Though the district qualified for $831,000, district leaders were committed to providing for the needs of the district without increasing taxes."

Keane said the emergency levy will not increase overall taxes for a homeowner or business unless their property assessment was higher than the area average.

"Even if their assessment went up more than the average, the increase will be minimal," he said. "Many will see their school taxes go down.

"This is a case where the overall growth of the community is helping to cover the cost of the increased student population. We had a significant increase in new construction that helps pay for the school enrollment growth."

Keane said all schools have grown. The largest enrollment increases were at Post Falls High (1,625 to 1,670) and Post Falls Middle School (780 to 841).

Greenferry's number leaped from 384 to 422, Mullan Trail's 368 to 388 and Frederick Post Kindergarten's 416 to 448.

"The rest are pretty close to last year’s numbers," Keane said.

No portable buildings will need to be added to any of the schools. A new elementary school that will open in fall 2020 is being constructed in the Foxtail subdivision east of Highway 41.

Meanwhile, the Lakeland Joint School District board approved an emergency levy for $259,722 due to 47 more students. The district's average daily attendance over the first three days of classes increased from 4,457 last year to 4,504 this year.

Brian Wallace, the district's finance director, said the funding will be used for teachers, support staff, technology and supplies.

"The vast majority will cover staffing costs," Wallace said.

Even with the emergency levy, the district tax rate will be reduced from $4.12 per thousand last year to $3.49 this year (63 cents), Wallace said.

"Taxes will not increase this year," he said.

Wallace said the district's emergency levy last year was $732,676. The smaller levy amount accounts for 16 cents of the 63-cent reduction.

The district's largest growth has occurred at Garwood Elementary (from 355 students last year to 426 this year), Betty Kiefer Elementary (451 to 482) and Lakeland Junior High (393 to 423).

The district will not need to add portable classrooms to accommodate the growth.

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