Flattened again

No growth means no emergency funds in Post Falls

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For the third year in a row, Post Falls' school attendance has increased only ever-so-slightly and no emergency levy funding will be sought by the district as a result.

"We anticipated more growth than what we've seen (during the first week of school)," Superintendent Jerry Keane said.

Post Falls' attendance has been at 5,677 this week, up only five students from a year ago, so the district canceled a school board meeting originally set for Thursday night in which emergency funding to help pay for the increased cost of educating more students would have been considered.

Idaho law allows boards in growing districts to seek emergency local property tax levies, without voter approval, to cover the cost of educating more students than what was budgeted for.

Keane said the past three years have been a far cry from several years ago when the district was growing at least 3 percent a year and building new schools. He said that, based on withdrawal slips, growth has mostly been stunted by typical economic trends of families moving due to jobs.

"We don't anticipate this trend to last much longer, especially after watching the growth for so many years," Keane said.

He said the next school project will likely be adding a second story to River City Middle School, but that appears to be two to three years out due to the flat numbers.

The student population at Prairie View Elementary is at 663 - 50 more than last year - but slight decreases at Post Falls Middle School, West Ridge Elementary and Frederick Post Kindergarten kept the overall number flat.

"Every other school has almost identical enrollment to last year," Keane said.

Portable classrooms were moved from West Ridge to Prairie View over the summer to help with the change, but Keane said the district will likely consider school zone boundary changes this winter as another solution to the spike.

"Prairie View is at capacity so we need to do what we can to distribute the students in a more level fashion," he said. "Unfortunately, growth doesn't always come in neat packages."

* Lakeland will also not pursue emergency funding because that district's numbers continue to decrease.

The enrollment is at 4,065 - 88 less than last year.

Since the 2010-11 school year, the district has decreased by 354 students or 8 percent. District officials say the new charter school in Rathdrum and families moving out of the area are reasons for the declines.

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