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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Bonner County School Trustees Mulling Levy $1 Million Would Buy Buses, Plus Computers For Classrooms

After watching school levies pass in Post Falls and Boundary County, school officials here are thinking it’s their turn to tap taxpayers.

School board members debated Thursday whether to put a $1 million levy before voters sometime this year to buy buses and put computers in classrooms.

“We have been talking about the need for a levy for some time,” Superintendent Roy Rummler said.

“If we are going to have an optimal effect on kids, we need some financial help.”

The last time Bonner County residents passed a levy was two years ago. It gave the district a little less than $1 million to repair leaking school roofs.

The board made no decision Thursday on when - or even if - it will put a levy before voters.

Most of the trustees seemed supportive of the idea. The only concern was that a school levy not clash with a $3.5 million bond levy the East Bonner County Library District is running in May.

“My feeling is it would be difficult to pass both with the public attitude at this time - the attitude of we can afford one and not the other,” library director Wayne Gunter said.

The school district wants to buy 10 buses for about $650,000.

The existing fleet is aging fast. The buses break down, and there are not enough of them. Routes had to be consolidated because of a shortage of buses, meaning some students have hourlong rides to and from school.

The last time the district bought buses was in 1994.

To bolster educational programs and help teachers, Rummler also recommended the district include $350,000 in the levy to buy computers. “We need to get the district up to modern standards now,” he said.

The district has about 200 computers for student and teacher use. The money would buy between 200 and 300 more and would pay for installation and technical support.

“We need about 1,200 new computers to be effective. This would just be a baby step, but we need to get them the basic tools,” said business manager Steve Battenschlag.

If a levy vote is approved, the election likely would not be held until fall. The district has little time to get ready for an election in May and does not want to compete with the library levy. The district also will have three trustee seats open, and the election for those posts will be May 19.

Trustees want to make sure the entire board supports the levy and suggested waiting until after the school board election to finalize a levy.

, DataTimes