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School levies pass in most North Idaho districts

Tue., March 12, 2013, 9:42 p.m.

Coeur d’Alene voters said yes Tuesday to extending a tax levy that the school district leans on more heavily in a period of dwindling state support for education.

“I’m pretty happy,” Coeur d’Alene School District Superintendent Hazel Bauman said. “It’s absolutely a wonderful blessing to have a community so supportive.”

The two-year, $27 million measure, which passed handily with 66 percent of the vote, includes $1.4 million for school safety and security upgrades added after the deadly elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December.

School levies to supplement what state appropriations don’t cover also passed Tuesday in Post Falls and Harrison, and in Bonner and Boundary counties.

The St. Maries Joint School District saw its levy request fail, with about 52 percent of voters opposed.

Coeur d’Alene’s maintenance and operations levy covers 21 percent of its budget. It pays for classroom supplies, libraries, bus operations, sports and other extracurricular activities, police officers assigned to schools, secretarial support, efforts to alleviate class sizes, computer and technology equipment, custodial work and maintenance.

The school safety money will be spent this summer on better fences, gates, doors, cameras and other upgrades.

The Post Falls School District levy passed with 68 percent of the vote. Voters there have approved school levies the past 27 years.

“We’re very pleased that it looks like the community is saying that (we) had a need that is worth supporting,” Superintendent Jerry Keane said.

The state has reduced the Post Falls district’s funding by $3.2 million since 2009, and the district has cut more than $1.5 million from its budget.

The district raised the new levy amount to $4.25 million per year but says taxpayers won’t pay more in school taxes because the district is paying off the bonds used to build Prairie View Elementary School and restructuring other construction bonds.

In Bonner County, the Lake Pend Oreille School District’s two-year, $15.7 million levy passed with 57 percent of the vote.

The Boundary County School District’s two-year, $2.8 million levy passed with 56 percent of the vote.

A two-year, $2.4 million levy in the tiny Kootenai Joint School District near Harrison passed with 56 percent of the vote.

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