March 27, 1996 in Nation/World

Post Falls School Levy Falling Short New High School Appears Headed For Defeat In Overcrowded District

By The Spokesman-Review

School officials may have convinced Post Falls businesses to support a high school building bond levy, but Tuesday night, it appeared too many voters still were skeptical.

In early election returns, the measure was failing despite drawing a lopsided majority of “yes” votes.

Two-thirds of voters had to support the $15.8 million levy for it to pass.

“The need is not going to go away. It’s a matter of when we come back with a proposal again,” said district Superintendent Richard Harris.

The Post Falls Chamber of Commerce practically ran the bond campaign. Members of Concerned Businesses of North Idaho went door to door trying to drum up support.

But at the polls, many voters were more concerned about personal finances than building classrooms for children.

“I don’t have the money to give them,” said one man as he left Seltice Elementary School. “You can’t give something you don’t have.”

“The school district squanders its money,” said Bob Adcox after voting “no” at Post Falls High School. “They don’t want to do reading, writing and arithmetic. They spend it on things … like lighted tennis courts.”

Back at school district headquarters, Harris spread his hands in a helpless gesture after hearing Adcox’s comment.

“I don’t know where they get that,” Harris said. “Those are perceptions…I don’t know how to reach those people.”

There were no tennis courts in the two bond issues on Tuesday’s ballot.

The big one aimed to build a high school for 1,300 students. An additional $1.94 million levy sought to add an athletic field and auditorium.

The two issues were separate to give people the option to vote for a basic high school without any extras.

In 1994, a bond levy to build a fully equipped high school failed to win even 50 percent of the vote.

The new school is needed to relieve overcrowding throughout the school district caused by rapid growth, supporters say.

Under the proposal, the new high school would replace the existing one, which would be converted to a middle school.

Harris was still optimistic voters would approve the bond levy as he closed his office Tuesday evening, and headed to the corner of Spokane Street and Seltice Way for some lastminute stumping.

There he waved a campaign sign at commuters with bond supporter Skip Hissong, who was red in the face from spending the cold day reminding drivers to visit the polls.

Turnout was higher than in past years, according to election workers.

The night before, more than 50 bond backers formed phone banks to call people and remind them to vote. In the last couple of weeks, radio and television ads touted the campaign slogan “Everybody wins.”

That sentiment was well-represented at the polls, too.

“The school district has needed better schools for a long time,” said one man after voting “yes.”

“It helps everybody to have good schools.”

This year, the district’s elementary schools were too crowded to hold kindergarten classes, which were shifted to an alternative school.

If the bond passes, kindergarteners will be able to move back into their schools. Sixth-graders will move to the planned middle school.

Connie Bailey voted for the bond levy because she has two children in the school district, one of whom attends the existing junior high.

“The junior high is really over-crowded,” Bailey said. “We have to do something besides keep putting in portable (classrooms).”

Fred Kazlauskas has no children in the schools, but he was feeling generous Tuesday.

“I got a property tax reduction,” he said. “I was happy about that. I thought I’d give some of it back.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

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