MY TURN: Cd’A School District levies deserve your support
| March 8, 2023 1:00 AM
If you are new to the Coeur d’Alene area, you are probably wondering why there is a Supplemental Operations levy for our schools every two years. At first glance, it certainly seems to be excessive. Truth is all of Idaho’s school districts were forced to fund local Supplemental levies after our state Legislature and governor passed House Bill 1 in 2006, moving approximately 25% of every school district’s operational funding to a taxpayer-approved Supplemental Levy every two years.
Further, the state of Idaho provides no money to school districts to build or maintain their facilities. The second levy on the ballot provides money for maintenance and safety work at a rate of $5 million a year for five years. Since this is an SPFL, the money cannot be spent until it is distributed each year and thus capital and maintenance improvements can be completed with no debt being incurred.
Our schools in Coeur d’Alene have always been a key component of our community. Strong, properly funded school districts attract good employers, job opportunities, health care providers and services and strengthen the overall economy. With respect to the Supplemental Levy, we cannot allow a 25% reduction in operations and programs. If we want to maintain the current level of education quality for our community and children we must approve the Supplemental Levy. The distribution of the supplemental money breaks down as follows:
- $1,280,000 Athletics and Extracurricular Activities
- $1,316,000 Textbooks, Learning Materials and Staff Training
- $1,655,000 Safety & Security: School Resource Officers, Staffing, Services and Supplies
- $1,189,000 Health: School Nurses and Mental Health Support
- $2,820,000 Classroom and School Resources such as Teacher Supplies, Libraries, Special Education Services
- $3,350,000 Elective, Enrichment and Career Technical Education Classes
- $1,570,000 Technology Staffing, Devices & Software
- $4,610,000 Maintenance and Transportation Staffing, Supplies, Equipment, Services and Vehicles
- $7,210,000 Compensation for Teachers and Staff
$25 million TOTAL ANNUAL LEVY AMOUNT
Information from the Coeur d’Alene School District website, cdaschools.org
The five-year, $5 million per year Maintenance and Security levy will ensure that the facilities and security is upgraded and properly cared for. We all know how important it is to keep up with maintenance issues, and the need for improved security and safety is a high priority for all of us.
While Coeur d’Alene voters have a long and impressive history of supporting levies, it appears that some new voters feel the school district should look elsewhere for this essential funding. Due to the changes made in 2006, there are no other alternatives but to make huge cuts to existing programs. Ironically, much of the increased need comes from the increase in the number of students moving into the area.
At the same time, there is a movement underway attempting to persuade voters to believe that liberal systemic changes to our Coeur d’Alene education system are occurring like other parts of the nation we have been hearing about. The use of this “Fear Factor” is illegitimate, irresponsible and unwarranted. Those of us who have been here for decades know and value Idaho conservative values. School District 271 has demonstrated these values as guidelines to its administration and teaching practices.
Given that since 2006, the state of Idaho chose to require local school districts to fund 25% of their operational costs and provides no money for facilities, we have a responsibility to our community and children to support both of these levies. Strong public schools are essential to our future.
Please vote yes to support these critical levies March 14.
It's just common sense!
John Barlow is a Coeur d'Alene resident.