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MY TURN: Levy supports safe, operational schools

by By REBECCA SMITH and CASEY MORRISROE/Guest opinion
| August 5, 2022 1:00 AM

The words reasonable and responsible keep coming to mind as we think about the School Safety and Deferred Maintenance levy on the Aug. 30 ballot.

All five of us representing you on the Coeur d’Alene School Board voted to bring this proposed levy forward and ask for your support. This past spring, we trustees toured our 17 school campuses and support buildings and saw firsthand the urgent and emerging security and infrastructure needs.

The backlog of projects needed to keep our schools safe, healthy and up to date has grown too long. We owe it to our students, their families and school employees to provide a reliable way of funding these facility improvements. Our state simply doesn’t cover these costs, and neither does our regular operating levy. To take good care of our public assets, we must turn to our community to make sure we have what we need.

Our Long Range Planning Committee, made up of community members from across our district, consistently has called attention to the growing problem of putting off major repairs and upgrades in our buildings for lack of funding. The committee identified this as our first priority and unanimously recommended this levy as the solution to tackle the backlog over a 10-year period and prevent costs from soaring out of reach.

This work is neither flashy nor readily visible, but it’s essential to ensuring our schools stay open and operational. A few of the immediate needs include heating/air conditioning systems ($7.5 million), school roofs ($4.5 million), boilers and plumbing fixtures ($2.8 million), floor finishes and carpeting ($1.7 million) and asphalt repairs ($1.5 million).

We also have $5 million in safety improvements we want to make as soon as possible. This is of utmost importance for the district, and we know our community wants this to remain a focus of our work.

A full list of identified safety and deferred maintenance projects can be found at cdaschools.org/levy.

Students, the heart of our district, may not notice or think about all of our facility needs on a daily basis. But they know when the heat isn’t working, bathrooms are offline and rain is coming through the roof. With the funds this levy brings in, we can continue to create schools our students are proud of and want to spend time in.

With these dollars, we can replace substandard safety equipment, including security cameras and alarm panels. We can improve playground fencing and reinforce classroom windows and doors. Cybersecurity also continues to rise to the top of safety needs.

Of note, this levy only pays for building work and not personnel costs.

It has been 10 years since we’ve asked our community for a levy like this — the time it takes a second grader to graduate high school.

These are reasonable and responsible projects that allow us to continue to steward one of our greatest assets, our schools. Together we can continue to create spaces worthy of our truly greatest investment, our children.

It's a privilege and an honor to serve you as trustees and we ask for your continued support on Aug. 30.


Rebecca Smith and Casey Morrisroe are trustees in the Coeur d'Alene school district. Smith is the board chair and Morrisroe is the vice-chair.

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Rebecca Smith

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