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PRESS ENDORSEMENT: Help make our schools safer, stronger

| July 31, 2022 1:00 AM

The air conditioner is old but until a year or two ago, you had professionals tune that baby up every spring. But now? Money’s tight, right? And maybe, just maybe, you can squeeze one more summer out of the thing before investing a couple hundred in it next spring.

The car is getting up there in years and more to the point, in mileage. But money is tight so you’ve ignored oil changes as the odometer marches on. Maybe everything will be fine until you get some overtime opportunities or, at worst, your next tax refund.

But sadly, that’s not how life works. Deferred maintenance leads to far more nightmares than moments of relief. “Pay me now,” an advertising slogan famously campaigned, “or pay me later.” Unspoken but understood is that when you pay later, you’re going to pay more. Maybe a lot more.

This is why Coeur d’Alene School District comes before you now, asking patrons to support its request for enough money to catch up on looming, potentially dooming, maintenance backlogs.

They are not small numbers: $8 million a year for 10 years. To the District 271 property owner with a $550,000 home — yes, that’s about average these days — the best guess is that the tax hike will amount to about $132 a year. So let’s see what that investment will return.

First, it will improve safety across the district, which is comprised of 40 buildings on school campuses and another four district-owned and operated facilities. Alarm systems, security cameras and door locks are widely subpar, particularly in these days of increased threats, so bolstering safety is District 271’s No. 1 priority.

Heating and cooling systems need serious attention and, in some cases, wholesale replacement. The price tag is likely to be in the millions, including the “ventilation” component of HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), which is key in combating the spread of viruses.

Overall, buildings average 30 years of age. Maintenance beyond emergencies has been largely deferred because Idaho doesn't provide school districts funds earmarked for building maintenance — a shameful and painful reality. That's why school districts are forced to go to taxpayers over and over again.

Coeur d'Alene's request isn’t fluff and stuff. It’s bricks and mortar, infrastructure and motors. It is the very basics — maintaining safe environments where many thousands of our children and grandkids can learn.

Coeur d’Alene’s fiscally conservative school board is 100% behind the $8M/10-year request. The Press strongly urges district patrons to join them and vote YES on the Aug. 30 levy request.

For more information, go to: https://www.cdaschools.org/levy

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