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Coeur d'Alene School Board considering levy reduction resolution

School board members have already been hearing the question, "Why are you asking for more money when the state’s already giving you money?"

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — The Coeur d'Alene School District will put two levy elections on the March 14 ballot — a $5 million-per-year, five-year safety and maintenance levy and a $25 million-per-year perpetual supplemental levy, as reported by KREM 2 News partner the Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls Press.

School board members have already been hearing the question, "Why are you asking for more money when the state’s already giving you money?"

Board Vice Chair Casey Morrisroe said Coeur d'Alene City Administrator Troy Tymesen brought up the question about funds set aside by the Idaho Legislature for K-12 education during a recent levy presentation to the Coeur d'Alene Economic Development Corporation.

"We had a good discussion about that as a group and that, yes, there’s this pool of money that’s been set aside there, but we don’t know how it’s going to be spent, and that’s kind of for the future Legislature that started today to decide," Morrisroe said.

During the school board meeting Monday evening, Morrisroe said Tymesen recommended at the levy presentation to bring before the board a resolution that would allow for the use of less levy funds when applicable, such as when more state funds are available.

"Our levy, it authorizes us to take $25 million, it doesn’t require us to take $25 million," Morrisroe said.

He said although the board could not be too specific with such a resolution, as the future is unknown, it is something to consider.

“I would be very, very interested in doing that,” Trustee Heather Tenbrink said, adding it would be reflective of the board's commitment to the community.

“By asking in perpetuity, I feel like it implies that since the board has the ability to take less, that we would look at it year to year," Tenbrink said. "But I would be totally on board with a more formal commitment that we would look at new funding and adjust the levy as appropriate.”

"I think our community would like that, too,” Trustee Lesli Bjerke chimed in.

Morrisroe said he would prepare a resolution to bring before the board during a workshop to be held in the next few weeks.

“I think it’s important that we agree to do that and make it formal so we can answer that question for people,” he said. "The sooner, the better, because we're going to be asked that question."

Coeur d'Alene School District Director of Operations Jeff Voeller presented to the board that he and his team have compiled lists of specific deferred maintenance projects to be addressed by safety and maintenance levy funds, if the levy passes with at least 55% of voter approval. This was done after the district conducted a thought exchange and received overwhelming responses during Christmas break from people who want to know exactly for what the funds will be used.

“We wanted this data to become public, we want this to be out there so that people know, ‘What are we going to do with this?’” Voeller said.

The spreadsheets, which are posted on cdaschools.org, show by year what work will be conducted, from heating and air conditioning systems to floors, roofs and paving. Viewers also have the option to review the five-year priority lists by location to see what work will be done at their children's schools.

"So many of these things are really almost what I’d call ‘behind the scenes,’” Board Chair Rebecca Smith said. "Things that we're going to continue to need to lift up to say, ‘Here’s what we did,’ because we don’t all see the boiler when we walk into our classrooms. A lot of those things seem to be very much a priority."

A similar breakout detailing the planned usage of supplemental levy funds has also been posted to the district's website. The supplemental levy must receive more than 50% of voter approval to pass.

The school board held its annual officer elections. Smith was re-elected to chair and Morrisroe will continue to serve in the vice chair capacity. Both were unanimously elected.

The first "Let's Talk Levy" open house will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 24 at Ramsey Magnet School of Science, 1351 W. Kathleen Ave., following a board workshop and executive session. A second levy open house will be at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 24 at the Coeur d'Alene Public Library, 702 E. Front St. Community members are invited to attend to discuss levy questions and concerns with the trustees. Light snacks will be served.

The Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 News partner. For more from our news partner, click here.

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