March 26, 1998 in Nation/World

Every Vote Counted In Post Falls Schoolteacher Says It Best: ‘It’s Nice To Feel Supported’

Laura Shireman Heather Lalley Contri Staff writer

It doesn’t get any closer.

Only one more vote could have sentenced the school district to more double-shifting at the middle school and more hard times with crowded schools throughout the district.

But with exactly the required two-thirds of Post Falls voters approving a $17.97 million bond issue to build a high school, the mood around the district Wednesday was one of exuberance.

“I’m happy because by the time we get into high school, we’ll have a lot better school and it won’t be as crowded,” said Jared Bangs, a seventh-grader at Post Falls Middle School.

“I’m just excited. It’s nice to feel supported,” said Rhonda Clark, a sixth-grade teacher at the middle school.

Final election results weren’t known until about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. Of the 5,487 voters who turned out, 3,658 - exactly two-thirds - voted in favor of building the school, according to official results from the school district.

“It was worth standing on the corner and holding a sign,” said Scott Tulleners, a 15-year-old high school freshman who waited around for the results at the late-night school board meeting.

The failure of the second part of the school bond $2.89 million that would have built an athletic complex, an auditorium and repaired the heat ing system at the existing high school cast a slight shadow over the victory for supporters.

“I’m really excited that it passed, but the fact that the soccer field and everything didn’t pass is disappointing because now they’ll have to bus us to practice,” said Tawny Moore, a freshman.

Currently, all sports at the high school except track and indoor sports like basketball must go to other schools or privately owned fields to practice or compete, said John Billetz, principal of Post Falls High School.

Once the new high school is built, “we’ll function the way we always have except now track will also have to travel,” he said.

Now that the bond has passed, district administrators will begin preparation for building the high school. They will review ideas a committee formulated for educational programs to include in the new high school.

Once the administration approves the specifications the committee has laid out, the school board will review them. Later, the architect - which a district committee selected for the job - will incorporate the specifications into the plans for the high school.

Despite the close vote, representatives from the Kootenai County Property Owners Association - which distributed information against the bond - say they have not decided whether to ask for a recount.

“It’s absolutely amazing it was that close,” said Dee Lawless, the group’s president. “If it had been one vote more for our side, they could rerun the election once more and ask for the same type of project. We have no recourse except possibly to demand a recount.”

Members of the property owners association watched the polls and the count Tuesday to make sure everything was done legally.

Lawless said she did not know when the group would decide about the recount.

She said she and others from her group were “verbally attacked” by bond supporters Tuesday after the results were announced.

One woman approached a member of the group and berated him and the other property owners for being negative about school issues.

“The way some of those people acted was absolutely incredible,” Lawless said. “They had won so why didn’t they have the grace to be quiet?”

When the school board announced the final results, most of the nearly 50 people who had gathered in the high school cafeteria erupted into joyful cheers and whistles of approval.

Skip Hissong, chairman of the school bond campaign, shouted “Yes!” when the results were tallied.

“No matter how much you lie and distort, you can’t fool all the people all the time,” he said.

“Let them (the property owners association) contest it. I’ve got faith in the people counting ballots.”

“I feel totally elated,” said school board member Ed Adamchak.

“The mood is great,” said Jerry Keane, assistant superintendent of the school district. “Most folks would like to see a bigger victory margin, but a victory is a victory and we’ll take it.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = Laura Shireman Staff writer Staff writer Heather Lalley contributed to this report.

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