December 14, 1997 in City

Beyond The Static, Hear Real Majority

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Things are beginning to look up for North Idaho schools.

In Post Falls, school officials politely listened to the Kootenai County Property Owners Association last week and then rejected the group’s half-baked scheme to address building needs.

The hit-and-run death of a middle schooler last month has aroused the community, maybe enough to make it quit shirking its responsibility and pass a high school bond on its fourth attempt.

In Bonner County, patrons are determined to quit pointing fingers and start fixing problems that have made their school district a laughingstock.

The Coeur d’Alene School District is building a new middle school.

And voters in economically depressed Kellogg gave 73.5 percent approval this fall to a $6.6 million bond for remodeling of the high school and a new middle school.

At last, North Idahoans are tired of waiting for the Legislature to fix their problems. They’re putting the welfare of the community’s children first - and beginning to tune out the naysayers who oppose virtually every bond and levy proposal that makes the ballot.

That’s not to say that groups like the Kootenai County Property Owners Association don’t serve a purpose. They force local governments to do their homework before bringing forward a bond or levy for voter approval. In some cases, a failed bond election has led to a better plan and cost savings the second time around.

Idaho taxpayer groups, however, shouldn’t get puffed up with the notion that they represent the majority. Usually, they don’t. The state’s inequitable two-thirds supermajority rule is the only thing that gives them clout. In Post Falls, for example, the supermajority law has enabled 37 percent of the voters to block needed school improvements that most residents support.

Last week, the Kootenai County Property Owners Association showed contempt for majority rule again by offering its own plan for Post Falls schools. The group pledged to support a bond for a new junior high, not a high school, IF the district scheduled school year ‘round and ended double-shifting immediately.

In other words, the district was to forget about all the input from parents, teachers, community leaders and administrators - because Dee Lawless and her disciples know better.

Maybe the Kootenai County Property Owners Association was being sincere. Maybe members are feeling guilty about the tragic death of Nick Scherling, 13, who was struck and killed Nov. 10 as he walked home in the dark after his school’s second shift. Who knows? Maybe it no longer matters if Lawless holds her breath until she turns blue next time the district puts forth a high school bond.

The supermajority appears ready to act.

, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = D.F. Oliveria/For the editorial board

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