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Tough decisions ahead for Coeur d'Alene School District

Courtesy Coeur d'Alene School District

The failure of the district's supplemental levy on Tuesday leaves two choices: re-run the measure in some form in May or cut the budget.

That decision was necessitated by the failure of the district’s supplemental levy on Tuesday. The $25 million measure would have augmented state funding, providing a quarter of the district's budget to help pay for operations and programs. It collected 49% support, one short of what it needed.

The board and Superintendent Shon Hocker had asked voters to authorize $25 million dollars a year in perpetuity, rather than require the district to have to run a levy every two years.

“The perpetuity levy would have just grounded the $25 million and you would have never have had to ask for that $25 million again," Hocker said. "But, at any time down the road if the board ever needed anything more, they’d come back to the community and say we need $3 million more to pay for X amount of more resource officers or whatever the example might be.”

A second levy to fund important facilities projects also failed by a small margin.

Hocker says the board will schedule a special meeting for next week to decide the next steps.

“They’ll have those conversations on Monday and decide if they want to present something maybe a little different to the community or whether they just want to not and just move forward with the budget preparations that it takes to cut 25% of your operations budget," he said.

Hocker says, if the district decides to run another levy, it would have to be in May so that the district could have a new budget ready by the first of July. If it decides on a May ballot measure, it must notify the state within the next 10 days. There’s also the question of whether to re-run one levy or both.

If the board decides to forgo another election, Hocker says the district will begin work on the painful process of cutting the budget.

“The vast majority of our expenses, close to 85-86% of our expenses, are all in personnel. That would have to be a significant reduction in personnel, 300-350 personnel, likely across the district that would have to be let go before the budget begins July 1,” he said.

Hocker says he won’t try to guess how the board will proceed with regard to the school facilities levy. It collected 54.5% support. It needed 55% to pass. He says he’s not optimistic that outstanding absentee ballots will change the outcome.

One of the Northwest's most seasoned reporters is returning to his SPR roots. Doug Nadvornick will be heard frequently on KPBX and KSFC reporting on local news.