Wednesday, December 06, 2023

EDITORIAL: ENDORSEMENT: Take a stand for Cd'A school levies

| February 19, 2023 1:00 AM

War is being waged, and voters must pick a side March 14.

On the surface, Coeur d'Alene School District residents are simply being asked to vote on two ballot measures.

One is a levy for up to $25 million a year to make up major funding shortfalls from the state.

That levy will pay for school facilities, athletics, clubs and developmental preschool, none of which are supported by state dollars. The levy also partially funds core instruction, kindergarten, technology, school maintenance and transportation.

Every year, the publicly elected school board will decide, as part of the regular budgeting process, how much of that $25 million it needs. If voters don’t like the board’s budgeting decisions, they’re empowered to change school board members.

The other ballot measure is $5 million a year for five years. Its chief goals are to 1) raise the starting wage to at least $15/hour with similar increases throughout the schedule ($2.25M), 2) increase teacher pay at all levels including unfreezing teacher salary during the first 3 years ($2.25M), and 3) increase school safety staff with the goal being at least one per building ($500,000).

Even if both requests are approved March 14, taxpayers will pay less next year for school levies than they’re paying now.

Because the state has insufficiently funded basic public education since a tax shift was implemented in 2006, school districts have had to ask property taxpayers to make up the difference. In Coeur d’Alene’s case, that hasn’t been a problem. Support for schools has always been strong here, but the partnership is no longer on indisputably solid ground.

Voter support for the district has decreased about 10% in each of the past three election cycles. If that trend continues with the March 14 election, Coeur d’Alene will almost certainly lose both requests — something that has not happened before and must not happen now.

The erosion of support can be attributed to several changes: an infusion of new residents who may not understand the school funding disparity in Idaho; political campaigns to defeat public school funding requests; and the intervention of some churches to convince parishioners that public schools here deserve anything from a spanking to extinction, but not enough money to operate satisfactorily.

All of that amounts not to a rational debate over the merits of public school funding requests, but a declaration of war forcing voters to pick a side.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation has gone so far as to proclaim public education a socialistic tool that should not receive any taxpayer support, even though the Idaho Constitution clearly states otherwise.

With an understanding and tremendous appreciation built over many years of witnessing the quality of education consistently provided by Coeur d’Alene School District, The Press fully supports both levy requests. We recommend that district voters pick the side that bolsters in our youth personal growth, happiness and prosperity. Vote Yes twice.

Then take solace in knowing that your public schools will continue to raise the quality of life for everyone in the community, even those who seek their demise.

Complete levy info:

Levy tax calculator:

To receive an absentee ballot:

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