Kootenai to float school levy

Proposal is $1.2 million per year for two years

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The Kootenai School District will float a supplemental replacement levy of $1.2 million per year for two years to voters on March 12.

"The levy supports student transportation, curriculum updates, staff retention, technology infrastructure, maintenance, groundskeeping and repair of our buildings and facilities," said Lynette Ferguson, superintendent.

Ferguson said the funding would help compensate for expired federal stimulus funds and state funding reductions. The levy will not pay for any new programs.

If approved, the levy will replace a supplemental levy of $647,000 a year for two years that will expire June 30.

Annual property taxes would increase by 97 cents per $1,000 of assessed value if the proposal passes. For the owner of a $150,000 home, that equates to about $12 per month.

A vote of 50 percent plus one is needed for the levy to pass.

Ferguson said additional cuts to programs and school maintenance will negatively impact the students' learning environment and opportunities. She said the district is running as lean as possible.

She said, for example, the district's technology infrastructure was purchased in 2002 via the Albertson Foundation and has not been updated.

"Not only do students need the computers to take digital learning courses, digital field trips and access information, the school is required to provide all reports via an online data system," Ferguson said. "The technology provides students with access to more than 130 online courses and brings equal education opportunities to the students."

Kootenai's student population has decreased from 275 in 2007 to 222 this year and state funding has decreased as a result.

The current levy comprises 26 percent of the district's $2.2 million budget compared to 15 percent five years ago.

Most school districts rely on levies to supplement the state's funding. Ferguson said Kootenai has relied on some form of local support dollars such as supplemental or maintenance and operation levies for more than 20 years.

Kootenai's current taxing rate of $1.25 per $1,000 to support its current supplemental levy is among the lowest of all North Idaho school districts.

Those with questions can contact the district office at 689-3631.

The Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls school districts will also float levy proposals on March 12.

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