December 14, 1995 in Idaho

Lakeland Planning Bond Levy Need For Space Overrides Bad Track Record

By The Spokesman-Review

Unfettered by a dismal history of bond levy attempts, the Lakeland School District is planning a bond election in the spring.

Classroom space isn’t desperately short yet in the largely rural district, but if growth continues at even conservative projections, at least four schools will be over capacity by fall 1998.

Since last school year, the district has grown 5.7 percent - the highest growth rate of any district in North Idaho.

The average annual rate of growth for the Lakeland district has been 6.9 percent since 1990.

The school board this week adopted the recommendations of a 17-member planning committee to hold a bond election. The board has not yet decided how much money to request from voters or specifically what construction is needed.

The committee suggested building a second junior high school in the northern part of the district, and adding classrooms to Garwood Elementary and the high school.

Garwood Elementary has the most serious space problem. Built for 360 students, it now houses 390, according to school officials.

“We’re full,” said principal B.J. DeAustin. “We don’t have any empty rooms.”

But the district cannot add more classrooms at the school unless it gets permission from Panhandle Health District. The school is limited by the size of its septic system.

The junior high school, located in Rathdrum, will be over capacity next year even if growth slows down, according to school district projections.

The school now has about 880 students, and is designed for 890. Next year, it will have 60 to 80 more students.

Assistant superintendent Ron Schmidt said the details of the bond proposal will be worked out in the next few weeks.

One possibility is to include the option of voting for kitchen facilities and starting a hot lunch program. The district does not offer hot lunch. Voters rejected a proposal to add a kitchen two years ago.

The voters did approve additional classrooms and a new elementary school at that time, however. That was the last school bond issue to pass in North Idaho.

Lakeland’s neighbors, Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene schools, have been forced to consider alternative short-term measures to deal with over-crowding because of their inability to pass bond issues.

On Monday, the Lakeland school board will interview architects for the building program at a special 6 p.m. meeting in the district office.

, DataTimes

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