Teachers in Boundary County won’t face layoffs and students no longer will pay $100 to play sports, thanks to a two-year levy voters approved Tuesday.
The $980,000 maintenance and operations levy will pay the bills and keep district officials from having to slash programs, reduce staff or close an outlying school.
The levy only maintains basic programs already offered. It does nothing to ease crowding in classrooms or repair ailing buildings.
Still, district officials were ecstatic not be faced with cutbacks to an already skimpy budget.
“We are very pleased,” said Superintendent Reid Straabe, noting it may be the first time the district has approved a two-year levy. “This reflects a positive attitude toward education in the community.”
The levy passed with 57.6 percent approval, the largest margin in the past eight years.
The strong showing gives district officials hope for floating a bond levy later this year. The bond possibly would pay to build a high school or junior high, renovate other school buildings or add educational programs.
“We were looking for something encouraging in the results. We wanted it to pass with a substantial margin so a message was sent that there is support for continued community activities in the school district, such as a bond levy.” A committee of residents is touring the district’s schools to get a handle on what it will cost to fix problems, ease crowding and make buildings safe for students.
One elementary school, Valley View, is overcrowded. The junior high is a menagerie of portable classrooms placed near the old high school. It has no kitchen to serve lunch. Its dilapidated gym can safely hold only 49 people.
The large voter turnout and easy passage of the levy gives Straabe hope that residents are starting to understand the district’s needs are serious.
“It was a good discussion and a good exchange of information among community members,” he said, thanking those who worked to support the levy and even those who raised concerns about it.
The district has about 1,650 students and a $7.5 million budget. State funding never covers the cost of all the district’s programs and salaries, and residents have been unwilling to pass major bonds or levies in the past.
A lack of cash forced the district to make students pay to participate in extracurricular activities. Many residents couldn’t afford it and student involvement dropped in the two years the program was used.
Straabe did not doubt residents wanted the pay-to-play program scrapped and said it helped to pass the levy.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Tally The final tally was 1,135 votes in favor to 837 against.