Schools all over Kootenai County are planning new ways to fit in more students.
Some schools in Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene already house far more students than they were designed to hold. The Lakeland School District is only a couple of years away from a similar squeeze.
That means bigger class sizes, more and shorter lunch periods, and crowded hallways.
Tonight, the school boards in Post Falls and Lakeland are scheduled to approve plans for spring bond levy elections to build new schools.
Within the next month, the Coeur d’Alene school board is expected to decide on a financing method to build a third middle school.
Here’s what school officials are thinking:
Post Falls: A $15.8 million bond levy to build a new high school would help relieve crowded conditions throughout the district, school officials say.
Under the plan, the current high school would be converted to a middle school for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students. Part of the money would pay to replace the heating system in that building. The junior high would become a fifth-grade school, and kindergarten students could return to the elementary schools.
The proposed March election ballot would include the option to add another $1.94 million for an auditorium, football stadium and a track at the new high school.
Lakeland: The big-ticket item in the Lakeland School District bond issue proposal is a second junior high school to be constructed in Spirit Lake. The election is scheduled for March 19.
The proposed school would serve 450 students from the northern part of the school district.
School officials are scheduled to settle on a dollar amount tonight for the multipurpose bond issue, which is designed to keep up with growth. This school year, Lakeland School District was the third-fastest growing district in the state.
In addition to a new junior high, the bond money would pay for five classrooms and a laboratory remodel at the senior high school, seven classrooms and other expansion of Garwood Elementary School, covered play areas at Athol and Spirit Lake elementary schools, a remodeled media center at John Brown Elementary School and equipment for the new facilities.
Equipment and facilities for a hot lunch program will be a separate item on the ballot. The school board decided the hot lunch program could be approved independent of the new school and classrooms.
Coeur d’Alene: Unable to achieve the two-thirds majority vote needed to pass its last two bond issues for a middle school, the school board in Coeur d’Alene is considering a different strategy this year.
The last two bonds included money for renovations to the high school and construction of a multipurpose room at Dalton Elementary School.
This year, officials plan to limit construction to a third middle school with an estimated $10 million cost.
Instead of attempting another bond issue, the board is considering a two-year supplemental levy, at $5 million per year, or a three-year special plant facilities levy that would raise $3.3 million per year.
A supplemental levy only needs a simple majority vote to pass. The special plant facilities levy requires 55 percent of the vote to pass.
“One of the things that both these models have in common is they would be paid for at the end of the two- or three-year program,” said Dave Teater, assistant superintendent.
The school board is expected to make a decision in February.
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