The Coeur d’Alene School District’s long-range planning committee approved a two-year $10 million levy Monday that cuts about $10 million from a previous proposal to renovate Coeur d’Alene High School.
The proposed levy, which officially will be presented to the school board Monday, calls for $4.8 million to build an elementary school in the northwest part of the city, $2.1 million for additions to Dalton Elementary School and $510,000 for new playground equipment at seven elementary schools.
The remaining $2.5 million would be spent modernizing Coeur d’Alene High School.
A recommendation presented at the last school board meeting called for a four-year $19.8 million levy that would have allocated $12.4 million for renovations at Coeur d’Alene High.
But some district officials said they did not think the public would accept such a large price tag.
“We would’ve had immense troubles getting people to believe it was important,” said Superintendent David Rawls.
He said the new spending package, which the committee approved 18-2, boils the levy down to “the essence of the most critical” needs in the district.
Others questioned whether the committee is backing out on its promise to renovate Coeur d’Alene High when a bond was passed in 1992 to build Lake City High School.
“Promises were made we cannot fulfill,” committee member Bryan Martin said.
Coeur d’Alene High Principal Steve Casey, who shook his head and stared out the window for much of the meeting, pleaded with the group to consider allocating more money to the high school.
“What value is the long-range planning commission if we can’t plan for the future?” Casey asked. “Don’t forget that facility has been there unfinished since 1970.”
The committee found it would cost about $10.5 million to make all the necessary renovations at Coeur d’Alene High.
Casey declined to comment after the meeting.
The proposed levy, if approved by the school board, would require a 55 percent majority to pass on May 15. It would not raise current taxes, keeping the rate at $2 per $1,000 of assessed value. The new levy will replace an existing $9.8 million levy.
Parity between the high schools may be important, but it doesn’t outweigh the more pressing issues of growth and safety, Rawls said.
“If we don’t get going with a new elementary school soon, we’ll have no place to put kids,” he said.
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