Coeur d’Alene approves emergency levy

Coeur d’ Alene school trustees unanimously approved a $1.2 million emergency levy just a few days after the 2015-16 school year began.

After three days counting students, school officials deemed average daily attendance was up 261. Last year’s ADA was 10,317 compared to 10,578 to start this year. A state statute says school districts with an increase over last year’s average daily attendance can authorize an emergency levy without voter approval.

“More students have shown up to attend our public schools,” Coeur d’Alene trustee Tom Hearn said. “I’ll keep beating the drum that we lack the adequate state funding to support our kids so we must rely on local funding and do what is necessary to meet the needs of our students.”

In August, the district celebrated the opening of the new Winton Elementary School, replacing a decaying school that was once one of the oldest buildings in Coeur d’Alene. Funding for the project came from a $32.7 million bond issue approved in 2012.

In March, voters approved a levy that increased funding by $2 million. The board asked for the increase to address larger class sizes and to replace aging textbooks.

The $1.2 million emergency levy approved Friday will go towards hiring additional teachers, assistants, material and technology purchases and the possible operating of more school bus routes.

“Our students deserve the appropriate staffing and supports essential for their learning. We all have discomfort over the intentional design of our state Legislature and Idaho’s mechanism for school funding, but we must continue to do what is right for our district which is local community funding for our public schools to cover the basics strictly due to an increase in students,” Board Chairwoman Christa Hazel said.

The district expects the student population to continue to increase in the next few years.

This levy will increase taxes $12.39 on the average $200,000 home.