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East Valley School District enters recovery mode

Mon., March 10, 2008

An improving budget has allowed East Valley School District to restore some cuts made last summer.

The libraries have reopened and summer school is once again on the menu. Other things brought back include a high school counselor, new high school textbooks, field trips, money to buy books for the libraries, more security and building budgets.

The district made $1.8 million in cuts at the end of the last school year, eliminating programs and laying off teachers, classified employees and administrative staff. The most controversial cut was school librarians, which effectively closed the libraries. Students couldn’t check out books or use computers.

The cuts came after officials overestimated district income and at the same time overspent during the 2006-07 school year.

The district began seeing signs of recovery in the fall of 2007.

At the end of the fiscal year last August the district anticipated having $178,000 in reserves.

Instead it had more than $800,000, which included state money for higher-than-expected enrollment and a reimbursement of $193,000 for overpayment on water usage and wastewater fees.

It became evident that some cuts could be restored. An online survey was made available to staff and included a list of possible restorations to be voted on. Administrative staff and the district’s parent council also had a say.

– Nina Culver

Medical Lake wants new school

MEDICAL LAKE – Voters within the Medical Lake School District will be asked to approve a $19.5 million school bond in Tuesday’s election for a new elementary school. A supermajority of at least 60 percent of voters is needed to pass the measure.

The bond would cost taxpayers $1.70 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to pay for a new school serving students in kindergarten through the third grade at the same location as Medical Lake Elementary School. The bond would also help pay for eight new classrooms at Medical Lake Middle School.

Superintendent Pam Veltri said the existing elementary school is 50 years old, and, while the building has been well maintained, it has electrical problems throughout.

“You’re getting to the point where it is less expensive to build a new one,” Veltri said.

The school houses 325 students and is full. The new school would house 350 students in a district that serves 2,200 students. It would be built around the existing school so students could still attend classes during construction.

– Lisa Leinberger

Road project to begin

Construction crews have begun preparation work on a Post Falls project to improve Mullan Avenue from Idaho Street to Highway 41, and heavy-duty work will be under way by the end of the month.

The $3 million project will repave Mullan Avenue between Idaho Street and Greensferry Road and expand Mullan Avenue from three lanes to five lanes from Greensferry to Highway 41.

“The asphalt plants won’t open until April, but there is some prep work they can do in March,” said Post Falls City Engineer Bill Melvin.

Access will be maintained to homes and businesses along Mullan Avenue throughout the project, but drivers may experience some delays, said Jason Johnson, project manager for contractor Knife River.

The only challenge he anticipates is keeping traffic moving in and out of the busy Wal-Mart parking lot, Johnson said.

– Amy Cannata


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