Districts Seek Bonds To Construct Schools
Voters in two North Idaho school districts will decide Tuesday whether to build new schools.
The Kootenai Joint District wants to build a high school at Harrison, where the junior and senior highs are now combined.
The Avery/Calder/Clarkia School District is seeking approval for an elementary school along the St. Joe River Road.
Both bonds will require approval of a two-thirds majority to pass.
The Harrison school would be built on 10 acres that the district has purchased next to its existing elementary school and junior/senior high school.
If the $2.95 million senior high is approved, the existing combined school would become a middle school.
The district’s total enrollment is 315 students.
“Our enrollment continues to inch up,” said superintendent Ron Hill. “We’ve been adding about 3 percent per year for the last six years.”
The existing school was built in the 1950s. Its classrooms are too small, Hill said. A portable classroom and the district’s central library are being used for classes. There’s no office for a school psychologist, and speech therapists must work with children in the hallways for lack of office space.
If the bond is approved, property taxes will increase 11 cents per thousand dollars of the assessed value on which taxes are being paid. “If you have $50,000 assessed value, it’ll cost $5.50 a year,” said Hill.
It would take 14 years to pay off the bond.
“That’s a fairly short turnaround. We feel good about that,” said Hill. “Interest rates are excellent right now.” Analysts estimate the district would pay 5.3 to 5.5 percent interest.
Polls will be open from noon to 8 p.m. at the Harrison EMT building, Carlin Bay Community Hall, Medicine Mountain Grange, Harrison Elementary and the Kirk and Melody Wight residence on Hells Gulch Road.
The sprawling Avery/Calder/Clarkia district has the lowest enrollment in the Idaho Panhandle: only 35 students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
They are divided between the Avery and Calder schools, which are 24 miles apart.
A third school in Clarkia closed for lack of students.
The new $1.65 million facility would be built on donated land between Avery and Calder.
It would save money now spent maintaining the old schools, according to district officials, and would offer educational advantages such as the chance to group students more closely by age.
If approved, the new school tentatively would open in November 1997, said district superintendent Richard Snook.
“One question that’s always asked is ‘What are you going to do with the old schools?’ If the election is successful, then they’ll meet with public to see what they want to do,” Snook said.
Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Avery, Calder and Clarkia schools.
If the bond passes, property taxes would increase an estimated $29.81 per year on a $40,000 property.
A similar measure failed in 1994. It received 57 percent of the vote, instead of the two-thirds majority required by state law.