The Coeur d’Alene School district took a risk this year, asking voters to approve a bond and levy totaling $68 million.
It was a risk that paid off. Voters approved a $35.5 million construction bond and a $32 million operating levy in Tuesday’s special election.
“We felt like we had a pretty clear message of our needs and the needs of our kids and it clearly resonated,” said Coeur d’Alene district Superintendent Matthew Handelman. “I think we’ve proven doubters wrong that we could run these side by side and be successful.”
The bond received 77 percent approval – or 5,431 yes votes – while the levy received 79 percent – 5,568 votes. The bond needed 66 percent approval to pass, while the levy needed a simple majority.
“It’s very encouraging and, like I said, it’s a great thing for our kids and our community,” Handelman said.
The bond money will be used to build a new elementary school in the northwest part of the district. Additionally, it will pay for upgrades to both comprehensive high schools and renovations to Lakes Magnet Middle School. It will pay for the addition of a library and art room at Dalton Elementary School and the installation of a wood floor in the Hayden Meadows Elementary School gym. Currently, Hayden Elementary has a carpeted gym floor.
The money also will fund a parking lot renovation at Fernan STEM Academy.
The Coeur d’Alene school board voted 4-1 in favor of the bond in January; the board approved the operating levy in December.
Handelman said the one board member who opposed the bond did so out of fear of running both a bond and a levy side-by-side.
Voters last approved a $15 million-a-year school levy in March 2015. They passed a $32.7 million bond in 2012.
Due to increasing property values, tax rates will not increase. The rate is currently $2.31 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
Both Lake City and Coeur d’Alene high schools were built for about 1,200 students. Each now has more than 1,500. Across the district, there are 37 portable classrooms, 22 of which are being used by elementary schools.
Several other North Idaho school districts had measures on Tuesday’s ballot. The Lakeland School district passed a supplemental levy and a facilities levy, while the Post Falls School District passed a supplemental levy. The Kootenai School District also passed a supplemental levy, as did the Plummer-Worley School District.
According to the Kootenai County Elections website, voter turnout was about 15 percent.
“It’s hard for me to express the appreciation I have for the community voting for this,” Handelman said.