Dozens of last-minute supplemental levy comments dominate trustees’ agenda

The community reminded the Coeur d’Alene board of trustees Monday evening that the upcoming supplemental levy remains the most pressing issue.

The district will ask voters next Tuesday to approve a $50 million, two-year supplemental levy. The levy covers 25% of its operating budget.

In support of passing the levy, several graduating seniors expressed gratitude to the board for what they described as an exceptional academic environment and supportive educators. They singled out their favorite teachers, classes and the impact the school had on their future goals and aspirations.

“It is my ultimate goal is to become a cardiothoracic surgeon, a career I set my sights on in Cathy Schaumburg’s first-grade class when she had us draw our futures,” said senior Brynn Johnson. “I have had the privilege of being taught by many amazing teachers.”

Several educators, parents and community leaders spoke candidly in favor of passing the funding measure to avoid the loss of educational programs and teachers. In opposition, others encouraged the trustees to be more frugal and listen to their concerns more carefully.

“We have been asking for this board, and especially the administration, to consider the equity framework, the social-emotional learning, basically the continued cultural Marxism that seems to make its way into our education system,” said Jeremy Deshane. “We’ve been very deliberate and yet we’ve gotten really no response. So when a levy comes around and we’re being asked to fund it, there’s been no compromise by this board.

“To say it’s been frustrating is to do it a disservice,” Deshane said.

With around 25 citizens signed up to speak, the board extended the comment period to allow everyone an opportunity.

Policy 3018: School restroom and changing facility access, overnight lodging

The board unanimously adopted Policy 3018, which aligns with new state law that goes into effect July 1. That policy requires students to use the restroom, changing facilities, and overnight sleeping quarters designated by biological sex.

“We received a number of public comments covering all sorts of different topics and perspectives,” said board chairman Rebecca Smith.

To view all of the public comments submitted to the board, use this link. The following responses were randomly selected from the four-page document:

  • Brooke Lunsford wrote in her comment, “I understand the district is limited in its ability to change the law within our state regarding this new policy. However, I am curious how the district will help provide a solution that works for EVERYONE. Every student deserves to feel safe in their bathroom. How will the district provide a safe space for trans and LGBTQ youth to feel safe as well? One person’s safety should not take priority over another’s. How will the district keep this population safe when they are truly the ones in danger? I hope you are able to take these questions into consideration as this policy begins to take effect.”
  • Kiara Shaw wrote in her comment, “I think this is important and I appreciate you hearing us! Acknowledging that biologically we are born a certain way and protecting those people who intend to stay that way is important. I think a reasonable accommodation of having a student who feels otherwise use a staff room bathroom is also important. I don’t want anyone feeling unloved, ridiculed, or ostracized. But, I definitely do not want hundreds of others feeling unsafe.”
  • Jennifer Miller wrote in her comment, “Please do not let the hatred of Idaho hurt our children. All children, regardless of sex (biological or chosen) deserve to be treated with dignity. Not respecting our trans children will cause higher rates of suicide, depression, bullying and overall decline in our kids mental health. Trans children should have the same rights as our cisgender children. I am begging you to do the right thing and stand up for our kids…all our kids.”
  • Stacy Smith wrote in her comment, “Bathroom, lodging, and changing areas should be determined by biological sex! By even entertaining the thought of accommodating anything other is absolutely disgusting and dangerous. Boys use the boys facilities and girls use the girls. If there is a student that is confused by this, they are welcome to use the private faculty bathrooms! All other students should not have to be affected by their confusions.

The board discussed the lack of single-stall restrooms at both high schools to accommodate students who are unwilling or unable to use facilities designed for their biological sexes. “I’m sensitive to that concern,” said trustee Heather Tenbrink.

“Moving forward we need to prioritize creating greater access at the two comprehensive high schools. I think we are going to see the use of those continue to grow,” said trustee Casey Morrisroe.

Superintendent Shon Hocker said, “We need to come up with a solution there.”

In other business, the board unanimously rescinded the district’s 2014 transgender guidelines. With the adoption of policy 3018: School Restroom and Changing Facility Access, Overnight Lodging, the old guidelines are no longer needed.

Darren Svan

Darren Svan

Reporter Darren Svan has a background in both journalism and education. Prior to working for military schools at overseas installations, he was news editor at several publications in Wyoming and Colorado. You can send news tips to [email protected].

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