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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Coeur d’Alene, Lakeland school levies pass; Kootenai County library board will see a change in leadership

Voters approved a levy for the Coeur d’Alene Public Schools in Tuesday's election.   (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)

Voters in Kootenai County backed school levies and a change in leadership for the county library board in Tuesday’s election.

Coeur d’Alene Public Schools’ two-year, $25 million supplemental levy passed with 63.5% of the vote. 

The levy represents about 25% of the district’s annual operating budget.

“I am so proud to be part of this community,” school board chair Rebecca Smith said in a statement late Tuesday. “Voters sent a message tonight that our kids are our #1 priority; that our teachers and schools are worth our collective investment; and that coming together for a common purpose is what unites this community and will move us forward.”

Last month, the school board declared a financial emergency and anticipated needing to reduce staff by 300 employees and closing one or two elementary schools if the levy was rejected.

A school board meeting is scheduled Wednesday to consider rescinding the financial emergency.

“We are humbled by the trust the community has placed in us and pledge our commitment to continue to use the levy funding in the most financially responsible way to benefit our students,” Superintendent Shon Hocker said.

Meanwhile, 54% voted in favor of Lakeland Joint School District’s two-year, $9.5 supplemental million levy.

Lakeland’s two-year, $1.15 million building maintenance levy had a similar margin. Some 55.21% voted in favor of the second levy, which requires a 55% majority to pass.

But voters in West Bonner School District, which includes Priest River, rejected a $4.7 million supplemental levy, with 51.6% voting against.

The Kootenai County Republican Central Committee campaigned against the Coeur d’Alene and both Lakeland levies. But the North Idaho Republicans, a group that includes about 30 former Republican elected leaders in Kootenai County who say the central committee has become extreme, campaigned in support of them.

The challengers for the two Community Library Network trustee seats, who campaigned on the idea that board members need to do more to keep sexually explicit books out of the hands of kids, beat the incumbents by a significant margin.

Combined with results from Shoshone County, Tom Hanley had 14,491 votes and Tim Plass had 13,917.

Incumbent trustee Judy Meyer had 12,634 votes and incumbent Regina McCrea had 12,070.

Voters were allowed to vote for two trustees, who serve six-year terms.

Meyer and McCrae had argued that board members shouldn’t be in the business of restricting access to books, and that parents should decide what their children are allowed to check out. 

Hanley and Plass were backed by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee, which released a dramatized video ad over the weekend that falsely implied that North Idaho libraries are showing sexually explicit materials to young children. Meyer and McCrae were backed by the North Idaho Republicans.

On the other hand, in Boundary County the two incumbent library trustees held on to their seats.

Aaron Bohachek beat his challenger Lewis Clark 260 to 169 votes for a full six-year term on the Boundary County Library Board.

And William “Lee” Colson beat his opponent Mary-Esther Wilson 244 to 200 votes for a two-year term.

Colson and Wilson also had been critical of the library potentially giving children access to explicit materials.

A committee chaired by Colson recently updated a policy that gives community members a process to challenge library materials they have concerns about. The board plans to discuss three young adult novels by Ellen Hopkins on Thursday.

For the Kootenai Health District, Christ Nordstrom and incumbent Thomas deTar won trustee seats on the board. Voters across the county could vote for two of three candidates. 

Nordstrom had 20,589 votes, deTar had 18,232 and Paul Mahlow lost with 17,970 votes. Nordstrom and Mahlow were endorsed by the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee. DeTar was endorsed by the North Idaho Republicans.

Kootenai Health is transitioning from a hospital district to a nonprofit organization.

Three Kootenai County highway districts had commissioner races for four-year terms.

Steve Adams won Subdistrict 3 of the Lakes Highway District in northern Kootenai County. 

Glean Heape beat incumbent Lynn Humphreys for Post Falls Highway Subdistrict 3.

Incumbent Phil Cooper beat Ronald Hartman for Worley Highway Subdistrict 1.

James Hanlon's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.