Why this gigantic levy if…..
Enrollment decline: enrollment has been steadily declining since 1999, per the Idaho Dept. of Education data. LPOSD doesn’t publish that record on it’s website or talk about it: In 1999 it was 4,147; in 2015 – 3,619, which is 528 fewer students. In 2016 the projected enrollment is 3,565, according to LPOSD’s consultants report.
Under-utilized buildings: many school buildings are not at capacity, but the levy would rebuild & significantly remodel them anyway. The data below is from Teater Consulting, hired to conduct a facilities review last year:
- SHS is at 85% capacity, but 4 new classrooms are planned after passing the levy.
- SMS is at 78% and planned for a tear-down and complete rebuild.
- Clark Fork HS is at 20%.
- Clark Fork Jr. High is at 84%.
- Washington Elementary is at 96%, projected to decline to 92% in 2020, but a complete rebuild is planned.
- Hope Elementary is at 67%.
- Sagle & Southside Elementary are at 81% and 83%, respectively, & Supt. Woodward at one time even floated the idea of combining the two because enrollment is decreasing so rapidly at one school.
- Sandpoint Alternative HS, a 109-year old building, is at 123%, rated as one of two of the most “unsatisifactory” buildings by Teater Consulting, but it is not on the levy’s construction plan. It is being delayed for “Phase 2″of the levy, slated to start after this one expires (or perhaps before).
Distortion: LPOSD insists on referring to its current & projected enrollment as “flat”, which contradicts consultants’ opinions & Idaho Dept. of Education records.
Bottomline: a school district with a declining student enrollment trajectory for the past 16 years & buildings not utilized to capacity wants to tear down & rebuild three buildings, add on to it’s under-utilized high schools, create five new athletic fields, and make modifications to many others.
Teacher friends I’m acquainted with have shared the fact that many teachers & working class families will find the levy’s six-year tax commitment extremely difficult. Not so for those making 6-figure incomes plus $10,000+ bonuses, such as Supt. Woodward.