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Old High School Needs Work Now

In 1992, Coeur d’Alene voters were promised the old high school would be upgraded significantly, too, when they approved a $16.9 million bond election for Lake City High.

In fact, at the Lake City High dedication on Aug. 31, 1994, LCHS Principal John Brumley reminded an audience of local dignitaries about that pledge. Speaking to the sun-drenched crowd, he said: “We can’t allow Coeur d’Alene High to remain in its current condition.”

By and large, the district has ignored the old school after completing work on the first of three renovation phases. In 1996, money for more CHS work was stripped from the $9.8 million levy for a new middle school. Now, out of a $10 million levy the district’s long-range planning committee has earmarked only $2.5 million for CHS renovation, barely enough to make a dent in the $12.4 million of work that’s needed there.

“Promises were made we cannot fulfill,” shrugged committee member Bryan Martin.

Promises may not mean much in Washington, D.C., but they should here. Before it does anything else, the Coeur d’Alene School District is obligated to fulfill its commitment to Coeur d’Alene High. At a minimum, the school board should add money to the proposed plant facilities levy to complete the next phase of CHS revitalization.

Superintendent David Rawls and the planning committee are ignoring a 1997 survey of community leaders that ranked the district’s top two building needs as a new elementary in the northwest part of town and more CHS renovation. The proposed levy designates $4.8 million for the grade school, $2.5 million for CHS, $2.1 million for Dalton Elementary additions and $510,000 for new playground equipment at seven elementary schools.

All of the above projects are important. But Coeur d’Alene High can’t wait another two years with its hand out while the disparity with Lake City High grows. The district has split between haves and have-nots, with the prosperous west side now boasting a new high school and a soon-to-open middle school.

The inequity between the high schools prompted 100 CHS choir students to protest last fall during their homecoming parade. While CHS singers sometimes jam into the girls’ restroom to practice, their Lake City High counterparts enjoy choir practice rooms, a large rehearsal room and a two-story auditorium, complete with a light and sound booth. That’s not fair.

For six years, Coeur d’Alene High patrons have been good sports, backing two new schools for the west side, while waiting for school officials to keep their word. The proposed bond doesn’t do that. Have-not voters will feel sorely tempted to register their displeasure, unless this proposal is revised.

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