School levy elections: West Bonner fails, Boundary and Lakeland squeak by at the polls

By Zach Hagadone
Reader Staff

Voters went to the polls March 9, weighing in on a number school levies throughout the state — including in the West Bonner County, Boundary County and Lakeland school districts.

Preliminary results, as of March 10, show that West Bonner’s two-year $6.8 million replacement levy went down to defeat with 943, or 53.46%, votes against to 821, or 46.54%, of votes in favor.

Courtesy photo.

The district relies on levy funds for about 25% of its budget. Not replacing the levy means the district will not be able to count on $3.4 million in funding each year for two years. 

District officials stated that the operations and maintenance levy had helped pay for teaching materials and supplies, curriculum and staff development, special education and advanced placement programs, technology and library updates, and continuing and enhancing extracurricular activities such as music, performing arts and athletics. Levy dollars also went to help provide all-day kindergarten.

The maintenance portion of the levy would have been earmarked for facility heating system updates, roof repairs, crosswalk lighting and gym siding repairs at Priest River Elementary. As well as that, administrators plan to dedicate a portion of the levy funding to maintaining safe transportation and continuing to support the district’s school resource officer.

The current levy, approved by voters in 2019, will expire at the end of the 2020-’21 school year.

Meanwhile, in Boundary County, voters narrowly approved a $4.8 million two-year maintenance and operations levy, 1,051 in favor, or 51.4%, to 995, or 48.6%, against, according to the Kootenai Valley Times.

The levy is intended to help fund paraprofessionals and staff who support student learning; curricular materials, digital licenses and professional development; computer and technology replacements and upgrades; student transportation, field trips and all extracurricular activities; electives, humanities and courses beyond state requirements; and facilities maintenance, grounds keeping and improvements.

As with the previous levy, the new measure would cost taxpayers $187 per $100,000 of assessed value, with the district noting that about 21% of its general fund budget comes from levy dollars. The district relies on the state for 76% of its revenue, while local sources provide $2 and county revenue contributes 1%.

Finally, in the Lakeland School District — which is primarily in northern Kootenai County but includes a small number of Bonner County residents — voters also squeaked out a win for a $19 million two-year supplemental levy, with 50.4% in favor. Kootenai County residents pushed the measure to victory — in the Bonner County portion of the district, 19 voters, or 59.38%, were against while 13, or 40.63% were in favor.

Lakeland relies on its levy dollars for about 30% of its budget, supporting everything from school safety and security to technology education, all athletics and academic extracurriculars, full-day kindergarten, all curriculum materials and additional nurse time.

Taxpayers in the district would see a bill of $222 per $100,000 of assessed value — an increase from the previous levy rate of $210 per $100,000, but offset by a bond levy expected to decrease by $12 per $100,000 at the same time.

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