Friday, February 03, 2023

EDITORIAL: Here's your education funding priority

| August 28, 2022 1:00 AM

If you’re confused about all the talk surrounding possible windfalls of millions of dollars to public schools, you’re far from alone.

In Kootenai County, three key funding issues will be tackled between Tuesday and early November — just over two months.

Coeur d’Alene School District has asked voters to support an $8 million per year school safety and maintenance levy for the next 10 years. That question will be answered in Tuesday’s special election for voters in District 271.

Two days later, Gov. Brad Little is convening a special session of the Legislature. On that agenda, he’s proposing the largest tax cut in the state’s history and a powerful infusion of funding for public education.

Then on Nov. 8, Idaho voters will answer a ballot initiative question that seeks funding for public education through a tax increase on Idaho corporations and wealthy individuals and couples.

The intent behind today’s editorial is to make two points clear: One, that all three measures cannot take effect; and two, that local voters should prioritize Coeur d’Alene School District both because it’s first on the schedule and because its impact is 100% local.

The Press and many of the community’s outstanding leaders, businesses and other organizations and individuals have lent their support to the school safety and maintenance measure. The newspaper’s editorial board remains foursquare behind the schools and strongly encourages voters to say “yes” on Tuesday.

Simply put, here’s why: Maintenance and safety measures already are years and millions of dollars behind because the state has inadequately funded these necessities. Passage of the levy will ensure that for the next decade, our school facilities will have the wherewithal they should have had all along.

Embracing the levy is the best step we can take in asserting local control that directly impacts our kids, our grandkids, and our friends' and neighbors' kids and grandkids. Whatever happens later this week in Boise or with the statewide initiative in November is not solely within local voters’ power to decide.

One important note is that if the Legislature approves Gov. Little’s funding plan - which we’ll get into on Wednesday — and if voters approve the education funding initiative in November, both will not be enacted. If the Legislature OK’s Gov. Little’s proposal, it will take precedence over the statewide initiative, even if the initiative passes in November.

So that’s the field of education funding dreams on the near horizon. On Tuesday, please support Coeur d’Alene School District's safety and maintenance levy. Then we're not dependent upon the Legislature or the initiative to take care of our own.

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