Press endorsement: Yes on school bond

In fully endorsing the Coeur d’Alene School District’s $32.7 million bond proposal, we’d love to simply focus on the positive sales points — and there are plenty of those. But you should be aware of two other things before joining us in supporting this critical measure.

First is that if anyone is telling you the bond does not represent a tax increase, the point requires clarification. If the measure is approved Aug. 28, the property taxes of residents within the district will not increase over their current levels. That’s because two other previously approved projects, a bond for Lake City High School and a two-year school plant facility levy for KTEC, both come off the tax rolls. That means taxpayers can approve the new bond and still see no increase in their school district taxes.

However, voters should also know that if the measure fails on Aug. 28, property taxpayers’ bills will go down. So while passage doesn’t represent an increase in what you’re paying currently, it does represent an increase over what you would pay if the measure fails.

The other point is that the bond issue is not the last time in the next 12 months the school district will seek your property tax support. Every bit as important as this bond will be a request from the district for an as yet undetermined amount next spring to support operations. The Aug. 28 bond will provide money to dramatically improve five of the district’s oldest and most unhealthy school buildings while benefiting another 10 schools with lesser improvements. The levy next spring will help keep our schools adequately staffed and running. Failure of that measure would likely lead to the loss of many jobs and the serious compromise of quality education in District 271.

But that’s a matter for future consideration. You are now being asked to help district officials address long overdue improvements to aged buildings with poor ventilation, heating and cooling problems and a host of other infrastructure shortcomings caused by heavy use over many years. We encourage you to study the detailed request and analysis on the district’s website, Do that and we believe your support will follow. Ours did.

In meeting with district officials including Superintendent Hazel Bauman, Chief Operating Officer Wendell Wardell and School Board Chairman Tom Hamilton, The Press editorial board’s support for the request was galvanized further. The recent addition of Wardell to the district’s management team is a tremendous boost for patron confidence. Wardell’s extensive background in both the business sector and as a member of the school board in Billings, Mont., gives him rare expertise in assuring patrons the very best bang for their buck while fully understanding the needs of a complex district. Add to that Hamilton’s conservative and conscientious leadership on the school board — a self-described conservative board from top to bottom now — and you know that as daunting as a $32.7 million proposal sounds, it’s been stripped of any frills or unnecessary features. The school board unanimously supports the bond request.

We’re fully aware, as are district officials, that North Idaho has not rebounded from the devastating effects of recession. You could save some money by defeating the bond request, but we respectfully ask that you spend a little more to provide safe, healthy places for more than 10,000 children to learn.

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