Coeur d’Alene Regional Chamber President and CEO Linda Coppess on Tuesday called on members to support the Coeur d’Alene School District’s two upcoming levies.
It’s about investing in teachers and students, which in turn helps the business community to thrive, she said.
“Let’s join together, let’s be brave, let’s be bold and get out there and fight for our teachers, our students and our community,” Coppess said to about 100 people at the Upbeat Breakfast at The Coeur d’Alene Resort.
Superintendent Shon Hocker and Board Chair Rebecca Smith outlined the need for the levies, which will go to voters March 14.
Hocker said district leaders have been making the rounds to share levy details, answer questions and ease concerns.
“I don’t feel like I get to be much of a school superintendent this school year,” Hocker said. “I get to be much more of a politician. I did not want to ever go into politics.”
The school plant facilities levy being proposed is for $5 million annually for five years. It needs 55% voter approval to pass. It would address maintenance and safety projects, which officials say are long overdue. It would cover repairs and updates of mechanical systems, plumbing, roofs, flooring, fences, parking lots and security measures.
It would cost the property taxpayer of a $625,000 home, assuming they get the $125,000 homeowner’s exemption, about $100 a year.
It’s a scaled-down version of an $8 million per- year, 10-year safety and maintenance levy that failed in August. It needed 55% voter approval to pass but came up short at 50.3%.
The supplemental levy, Hocker said, is critical and would be $25 million annually. The proposal is $5 million more than the current $20 million a year, two-year supplemental levy. It would be in perpetuity, meaning the district would no longer seek voter approval every two years.
Hocker said running the levy every two years is costly in both time and money and creates uncertainty.
“We would like to lock that up,” he said.
Hocker said it’s important to note this is not a new levy, but one that’s been supported by the community for more than 30 years.
“This is a renewal of an existing levy that has been around for a long time,” he said.
The levy is about 25% of the district’s operating budget and goes toward things like employee costs, textbooks, classroom supplies, student computers, sports and extracurricular activities, transportation, and custodial services.
It would cost the owner of a $625,000 home, receiving the $125,000 homeowner’s exemption, about $475 a year. The levy needs 50% voter approval to pass.
Smith said the decision to propose the levies came only after much consideration of the district’s budget, accountability and whether the community would support them at this time.
“Both of these levies truly are all about kids and I don’t want to lose sight of that,” she said. “Our students and our schools really are the heartbeat of our community.”
While some may be wary of the supplemental levy being in perpetuity, Smith said it’s an important step for the district’s future and it will allow the district to focus on students.
“We need your ‘yes’ vote,” she said. “We need your support.”
Coeur d’Alene School District Board Chair Rebecca Smith speaks during the Coeur d’Alene Regional Chamber’s Upbeat Breakfast at The Coeur d’Alene Resort on Tuesday.