Another Record-High Levy For Lake Pend Orielle
LPOSD Levy Election March 14
by Anita Perry
The Lake Pend Oreille School District is running another two-year supplemental levy, which will come up for a vote on March 14. It’s the only issue on that ballot, and the voting will be at your regular polling place.
This levy is for $17 million, which is about $1.3 million (7.8%) higher than the last two-year levy in 2015, and it is a record high in the supplemental-levy history of LPOSD. Despite the District painting a doomsday scenario if it doesn’t pass, it is instructive to see what and who is being paid out of the levy: 26% of staff including six-figure administrative salaries, 110 coaches, all-day kindergarten, and more.
Before going to the polls, here is some background information to be aware of:
- LPOSD has received a 15% state funding increase since 2015 and expects another 6.4% to 6.7% for 2017.
- LPOSD’s student population has steadily declined since 2000 and is now about 600 students less.
- Meanwhile, LPOSD’s supplemental levies have steadily increased since 2000 and are now 590% higher than in 2000.
- Priest River School District, by contrast, is staying within its budget and shows no supplemental levy increase. (Kudos to them!)
For more details, check out www.lposdlevy.com
As of last Friday, February 3rd, LPOSD Superintendent Shawn Woodward had not released his calendar to show where he is holding informational levy meetings despite a written request. Meanwhile we learned that he did hold levy presentations at Sandpoint Kiwanis and a local realtors’ organization. One is left to surmise that he wants to control and limit the audience and message.
Within the last few days LPOSD did release a list of 12 informational meetings for the public but is limiting them to 10-12 attendees each, with RSVPs requested. RSVPs are unprecedented for levy meetings, as is choosing to limit the number of attendees. It means that no more than 144 residents total have the opportunity to hear about this levy in a public setting – out of the many thousands of residents in the LPOSD school district.
Furthermore, all 12 of these meetings are not publicized anywhere except the school district’s website.
Also, all of them are daytime meetings, preventing many working people from attending. In response to an inquiry by a citizen questioning the limited number and size of the meetings, required RSVPs, and no evening meetings, Geraldine Lewis, one of the school board members and a proponent of the levy, advised:
“The goal is to get a smaller group of 10-12 people at each meeting (hence the rsvp) to allow for more “round table” discussion and question/answer time.
I also know he [Woodward] has said he will meet with people anytime if they ask, so if someone needs an evening time they could work that out. But most days we encourage him try to keep within work hours. He has a family also and this can be a very long month. Most people get a lunch break so that might help with attending a mid-day meeting.”
No matter where you stand in relation to the levy vote, attending a levy presentation is important to learn through Q&A specifically why and how your ever-increasing school taxes are being spent. If daytime meetings are inconvenient, ask for an evening time that is convenient for YOU!
Here are the dates, times, and locations of the 12 levy meetings LPOSD is holding. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. It is my understanding that attendance is not allowed unless your name is on the RSVP list, even if there is space available.
LPOSD office, 901 Triangle Drive, Ponderay
Feb. 10: 8:30am, 10:15am and 11:45 am
Feb. 23: 1pm, 3pm, 4:30pm
Clark Fork High School
Feb. 16: 1pm, 3pm, 4:30pm
March 2: 8:30am, 10:15am, 11:45am