June 1, 2005 in Idaho

Boundary voters pass school levy, avert cuts

Taryn Brodwater Staff writer

“Vote Yes for Kids” was the message levy supporters carried as they walked the Kootenai River bridge in Bonners Ferry on Tuesday.

Voters in the Boundary County School District took heed.

A last-ditch effort to save everything from extracurricular activities to a small, rural elementary school was met with success. A supplemental, two-year levy was approved with 57 percent of the vote Tuesday, sparing the district from bone-deep budget cuts. The vote was 2,003 in favor and 1,494 against, said district board chairman Tina Wilson.

“We are proud of our community for stepping up to the plate,” Wilson said. “Everybody was working together.”

The levy failed by 82 votes when put before voters on March 29. Board members, who initially had said there wouldn’t be a second try, relented, rather than make the deep cuts.

The supplemental maintenance and operations levy will collect $799,700 a year for the next two years. The owner of a home with $100,000 taxable value will pay about $149.51 a year – a reduction of $34.64 from the expiring levy.

Because $185,000 less is being collected each year of the levy, the district has already made some money-saving moves, including shortening the school week to four days.

The vote appears to have saved Naples Elementary, a small-town school slated for closure if the levy had failed. It also saved school sports and other extracurricular activities, secured the purchase of new textbooks to replace outdated ones, and spared more than $30,000 in technology funding. A handful of positions, including those of rural elementary principals, would have been eliminated.

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