Thursday, March 30, 2023

MY TURN: Cd'A School District needs your support

| March 3, 2023 1:00 AM

Friends and neighbors, we need to say what paid school officials can’t: The Coeur d’Alene School District needs your support March 14. On that day, local voters will decide whether to support two crucial levy requests.

The first is for a $25 million-per-year Operating Levy that would replace the current $20 million levy. The second request is for a five-year, $5 million-per-year Safety and Maintenance Levy that will allow the district to make necessary building security improvements and address aging facilities and equipment.

Why support the $25 million Operating Levy?

As a state, Idaho has chosen to fund the bare minimum when it comes to education. According to a May 2022 article from Idaho Education News, Idaho ranks dead last in per-pupil state funding and significantly less than our neighboring states. Fortunately, Idaho‘s education funding structure has specifically been set up to allow local voters the opportunity to dedicate local property taxes to supplement the inadequate state funding.

For more than 36 years, Coeur d’Alene School District voters have approved this local levy to meet the unique demands and desires of our community. This long stretch of local support for public education is why we are asking our community to support our operating levy in perpetuity.

Some items funded with local voter approval include curricular materials; instruction to meet student needs such as advanced learning programs and literacy interventions; instructional assistants to provide individual attention; school resource officers and security personnel to enhance school safety; nurses and wellness programs; technology to support learning; music, art, athletics and extracurricular activities; facility maintenance; and school bus replacement. These levy-funded and community-supported items are ingrained in the fabric of our community schools, and are key to what makes Coeur d’Alene schools great.

Why support the $5 million Safety and Maintenance Levy?

The Coeur d’Alene School District operates 17 school campuses and four operational facilities in just over 1.4 million square feet of buildings, with a replacement value of over $346 million. Outside of about $1 million in annual lottery funds, Idaho provides zero dollars toward the construction, repair or replacement of school facilities. Instead, that burden is left entirely to local taxpayers through bonds and levies.

This funding model, or lack of funding, has led to a state-estimated $1 billion backlog in school facility needs across Idaho. Fortunately, like with our local Operating Levy, Coeur d’Alene voters have a history of supporting school construction, repairs and upgrades. This has allowed our district to construct and repair the vast majority of our buildings over the last 30 years.

Now, many of our buildings are in need of repair and replacement. It is estimated that we have $23.3 million in deferred maintenance, and if we fail to address those needs, the need will grow to well over $100 million in 10 years. This past August, the district ran a similar Safety and Maintenance Levy asking for $8 million per year for 10 years.

After that vote barely missed the mark of 55% approval, the school board heard from many of you who thought the request was too large for too long, and not specific enough. The board heard your concerns and has returned as requested with a proposed levy of a third the size and half the time frame. The detailed plan can be found at

If approved, this request will create a dedicated fund to pay for an extensive list of building security improvements and facility repairs. By law these funds cannot be used to support salaries or benefits and can only be spent on school assets.

What impact does this request have on property tax bills?

Because our Operating Levy is a renewal of our existing levy, the additional impact is $19 per $100,000 of assessed valuation, after your $125,000 homeowners deduction. The estimated average annual cost of the Safety and Maintenance Levy is also $19 per $100,000 of taxable assessed value, per year, based on current conditions.

We need your support! We hope you find value in the programming and initiatives the Coeur d’Alene School District provides our students. We have great schools, made even greater with your continued support. We certainly feel this is a reasonable, responsible and common sense request that allows the district and community to better support students and staff while respecting the burden on our taxpayers. Please join us in voting yes March 14.

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Rebecca Smith and Casey Morrisroe are Coeur d'Alene School District trustees. Smith is board chair and Morrisroe is board vice chair.


Casey Morrisroe

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