A tax watchdog group told the Post Falls School District on Wednesday it probably will not support the March 24 school bond issue.
When school district Superintendent Dick Harris asked Dee Lawless, a member of the Kootenai County Property Owners Association, if the group would oppose the school bond, she replied, “The thinking is leaning that way.”
In December, the property owners association had offered its support of the school bond if the amount was $14 million or less and if the school district ended double-shifting at Post Falls Middle School.
The school board has not ended double-shifting. And it set the bond at $17.97 million for a new high school, with the option of adding an athletic complex and fixing the heating system at the existing high school for an additional $2.89 million.
District officials said details of the school bond and the decision to double-shift had been worked out through numerous public meetings.
Members of the property owners association said they had hoped for more of a compromise. They had requested the meeting with the school district before the school board had set the amount of the bond.
“What is the purpose of this meeting? Your bond has been set in concrete. How can we compromise?” Lawless questioned.
The school district cannot build the high school it needs for $14 million, Harris responded, adding that discussion about building the high school had been going on since last summer.
“From my standpoint, at the 11th hour or the 11th and three-quarters hour, a presentation was made” to support a $14 million school bond, he said. “The dye had been cast before you ever came in with the presentation.”
Alan White, a member of the property owners association, conceded the association’s conditional offer of support had been made late, but only because “I don’t think our group was ever approached for input,” he said.
School board members are inflexible when it comes to what kind of school will be built and for what amount of money, White charged.
Association member Don Morgan said he hoped that if the bond doesn’t pass, the school district would meet with the group to work out a compromise the next time it seeks to pass a bond issue.
“We’re always willing to sit down and talk. We don’t want to shut anyone out,” said Kevin Schneidmiller, chairman of the school board.
But the school district already has listened to and considered the concerns and suggestions of the property owners association, Schneidmiller said.
“I believe that everybody should be heard, but I also believe that once everybody has had their say, we should go with the majority,” he said.
Harris extended an offer to the property owners association in an attempt to garner their support and answer their opposition to double-shifting.
“If your organization would come out and actively support this bond issue, I at least would look at any possible way to get out of doing what we are (with double-shifting),” he said.
The association would not commit to the offer, Lawless said. The property owners association has endorsed using year-round, multi-track schooling to ease overcrowding.