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JUST A REMINDER on the LPOSD Levy Election

A bill is being fostered in Boise to reduce the super majority necessary to pass levies from 66% to 60%,

JUST A REMINDER on the LPOSD Levy Election

JUST A REMINDER on the LPOSD Levy Election

The forthcoming LPOSD levy election, at a cost of tens of thousands to Bonner County taxpayers for a single-issue special election, is being foisted upon the residents of this school district by the same administration that brought us the failed plant facilities levy in August of 2016. We were told the end of the world was imminent for the school infrastructure with a NO vote on the August ballot, only to witness barely a whimper when the NO vote dust settled.

Now the very same promulgators of the August levy are again warning of an end-of-the-world scenario if the supplemental levy is defeated – less of course, administrative compensation. When they threaten layoffs of a third of the staff, it’s safe to say that they’re not talking about the Administration, which will continue to pocket their bloated salaries, perks, and benefits. And based on August’s levy experience, is it not conceivable that the threatened “catastrophic” consequences are again hyperbole because another levy would be immediately put on the May ballot to make it into the budget by the next fiscal year?

In the meantime, the public should know that, while this is going on, a bill is being fostered in Boise to reduce the super majority necessary to pass levies from 66% to 60%, close to the voting block of public employees in Bonner County. Clearly, taxpayers need a financial Faraday Cage for their wallets and purses!

Tom Clark
Sandpoint

12 Comments on JUST A REMINDER on the LPOSD Levy Election

  1. I’m beginning to think you folks have been Californicated like us here in Oregon…. nip it in the bud before it does irreparable harm!

  2. Transparency, accountability, and A+ Audits already exist in the fiscally conservative LPOSD. The likely reason one couple made 117/132 freedom of information requests is that they are searching for a flag they can use to rally their anti-tax/anti-education/anti-government movement with. Here are some examples of how this movement has lied.
    Banning stated the district pair for broadway shows, NY hotel rooms and flights. Fact: all the money was fundraised by students and parents for the Model United Nations class
    Banning stated that SHS football pays 15 varsity coaches. Fact: There are 15 coaches for 3 football teams and 140 student athletes.
    Lutrick stated the school district provides “wifi on buses”. Fact: there 52 buses and 7 have wifi for students to do homework on long athletic and academic trips.
    Rose stated, “Jerilyn Meyer, SHS counselor, stood with and behind Michelle Obama cheering for excessive educational spending.” Fact: Jerilyn Meyer was selected as Counselor of the Year for the State of Idaho for her work on increasing the number of LPOSD seniors that go on to the military, to college, and to other technical training programs. She traveled to D.C. to be recognized for her accomplishments, and stood in a ceremony while counselors from all over the US were thanked by the First Lady for their service to education.
    Rutherford stated that the district paid for a student trip to Tanzania. Fact: All money was fundraised by students and parents.
    They said the school district was trying to “hide information” by not holding evening informational meetings about the levy: Fact: The schedule says “If these times or dates do not work for you, please contact Kelly Fisher. We would be happy to find a time that works better for you.”

    This is a new and well organized political movement in our community. They have reached out to businesses in Sandpoint. If the business owner supports the levy they move to the next door. If the business owner is anti-levy or waffling, they share their lies, misinformation and misleading graphs.

    Look at the numbers below. If the levy fails then LPOSD will be BELOW the lowest funded state on a per pupil basis.
    The LOWEST. That fact that the school district is providing a quality education should be applauded. The accountability is already there, in that the board goes through the process of budgeting and cutting every 2 years before the levy goes to the public.

    Check out the amount of transparency of information at the http://www.lposd.org website, but please do not believe that these people want what is best for our students or our community.

    Here are the National Per Pupil Funding numbers for 2014-15 school year, compared to LPOSD 2015-16.
    Public School Per Pupil Funding
    #1: Vermont $27962
    Mean $12578
    #32: Washington $11557
    #43: Idaho $9905
    LPOSD: $8170
    LPOSD If the Levy Fails: $6130

  3. Actually there is wifi on 10 buses (regardless of the reason) which costs the taxpayers/district a little over $400/month.

    This is from a document received through a FOIA request.

    The funding of trips was misunderstood in that when the information was given to the requestor, it was one single line item. There were no line items which stated fundraising nor parent funding. LPOSD is solely responsible for any misunderstanding.

    The other times mentioned are not lies, simply viewed through one’s own opinion of the reasoning behind it.

    There are 110 paid coaches and/or advisors for the district including sports and club activities. This was also itemized through the receipt of the FOIA request.

    Regardless of the name calling, transparency and fiscal responsibility is what community members seek. An A+credit rating means the columns add up correctly. A forensic audit would be a more thorough audit to see how and where every single dime of the taxpayer’s money is spent.

    Community trust is and should be of the upmost of importance to the school board and district.

    If the FOIA requests, which are the mandated vehicle by which information can be gathered from school district (per their own rules) are an issue to the district, perhaps they need to change how they choose to be open to information and questions from the public.

  4. Thank you Wendy Auld for the facts.

    This levy is a two year levy that provides community support for our schools that isn’t from the state or the federal level. It makes sense that a community would have a stake in their own schools.

    For everyone out there against this levy that doesn’t have kids or know any kids think about the traffic situation: three possibly 4 schools could close and all of those kids will be bused to Sandpoint. Think about the angst filled teenagers who get help from their teachers right now. What is going to happen when there are over forty kids in a class?

    Take your fight against transparency to the right place, please don’t sacrifice our children and outlying economies on it.

    • Angst-filled teenagers? As a teenager we had nearly 40 students per class and it wasn’t a problem. We were college-ready when the time came.

      As an elementary/middle school age student, if there were less than 20 students per class, they would be combined with another class, either of the same grade or an adjacent grade. It all worked fine.

      I’d like to add that Superintendent Woodward actually said during a school board meeting about a year ago that the declining elementary school enrollment could justify combining two elementary schools in the Sagle area: Sagle and Southside. At the time one of those schools had just lost 40 students! Follow-through on Woodward’s suggestion would have made sense and would have shown a willingness to be financially responsible.

  5. In full disclosure, Ms. Auld in employed by LPOSD. Ms. Auld is also paid an extra duty position on the SHS varsity football coaching staff – a staff that was 15 until publicized, prompting LPOSD to change the website to only show 10. Fortunately there are payroll documents as evidence. (JV and Freshmen teams have 4 coaches each on top of the varsity team)

    So here’s my questions:
    1. LPOSD claims the levy “funds ALL extracurricular academic and athletic activities” so why are they fundraising? Is this claim deceptive to voters? Where are the levy funds going?
    2. If the levy fails, LPOSD will put it on the May ballot. The current levy does not expire until June 30th. Why the threats?
    3. There is plenty of evidence that the school district does withhold information. Why does the district publish the requests but not the actual documents provided?
    4. Private and charter schools provide a good education without levies; in many cases a better education than the public schools. Is this because they live within their means?
    5. Is more money the answer? How much is enough?

    Keeping government accountable is our duty as responsible citizens. We should feel welcomed to be engaged.

    Truth is, LPOSD has been allowed to steadily increase the levy amount over the years, while enrollment decreases. There is no political movement – people are finally waking up and are very concerned that the future of the county will look bleak for their children.

    Many have experienced first hand how public education becomes a burden in other states, and they don’t want the same thing to happen, making it unaffordable to live in this cherished community.

    Why is the education community so intolerant of an opposing viewpoint? Why are so many trying to limit the message and silence voices? This is the behavior of an addict; addicted to other people’s money.

    Information provided by only the side who benefits from the passage of the levy should be unacceptable. Hopefully we are teaching our children to be open-minded and to listen to both sides and do their own research when making a decision.

  6. Ms. Auld your average teaching salary is $51,000. and the Bonner County average salary is 33,000. And you get an addition 5K with employer benefits as a stipend paid football coach – Statistician. Would you agree that your earnings are 50% greater than the average parent of the student in your classroom. Is Jeralyn Mire cheering for less money or more money or just the right amount of money? If VT pays $27,000 per student and Sandpoint pays 9,000, is the VT student 300% smarter than the Sandpoint student?
    If I went to Boise as a home school student for academic decathalon, would it be right or just for me to first make a withdraw from your bank account to pay for my meals, coach bus ride and hotel, or would I have to ask my parents to pay for it?
    My list of deceitful operations within LPOSD expenses is extensive and I’d welcome the debate with you as long as the forum has broad reach, welcome to our house!

  7. I’ve lived in the same home for 28 years in Bonner Co.,watching my tax liability increase every year. My income has increased a fraction compared to government taxes imposed upon the citizens. Let us not forget LPOSD is just another taxing bureaucracy that is fixated on implementation of some grandiose vision, that has been formulated by a small group of insiders. These administrative bureaucrats have one objective, give special interest what they want and enhance their resume for future employment. Have you ever noticed a choice as to the amount of money or programs that you as the banker are willing to fund. This is a all or nothing pork belly ripoff. Enough of this discriminatory taxation against property owners. This form of progressive taxation has no boundary, keep yelling doom and gloom, we need more money it”s for the children!! What has happened to the hundreds of MILLIONS that has been dumped into this bottomless sinkhole? VOTE NO ON LEVIES, until every one has skin in the, funding our schools process.

  8. I am getting weary of LPOSD using teachers and pupils to spin a tale of woe and draconian consequences if the “meanies” don’t pass the levy. The labeling and name calling of anyone who questions the LPOSD is shameful. I want to see more money in the classrooms and more money to the actual teachers, not to coaches and extra-curricular activities.

    If LPOSD is truly concerned about academics then perhaps they need to evaluate the vast amount of monies expended for extracurricular activities and for coaching staff. Why are teachers in some schools forced into teaching first, second and third graders in one classroom because of the declining enrollment? Where is compensation and assistance for these teachers who are stretching themselves to the nth degree to educate our children?

    LPOSD is far from transparent in their financial dealings and I for one, am sick and tired of them treating citizens like criminals when we ask for details about how OUR money is being spent.

    Do you ever wonder why, in 2015, the Albertson Foundation stopped tossing millions into the public school districts in Idaho? Beginning in 1997 they poured over $700 million into Idaho schools but now have come to the conclusion that “Higher per student spending does not guarantee student achievement” Quoting from the Albertson Foundation’s “Rethinking Education” document in the “rethinking funding”, “If Idaho elects to boost per student spending, how would schools make the new money matter?” Evidence and experience demonstrate that additional dollars alone do not guarantee improved results. Spending more money, the same way – business as usual- has shown limited success elsewhere. (you can view the document at https://issuu.com/jkaf/docs/jkaf_rethink_funding).

    This is the crux of the issue I have with the LPOSD levy. They continue to spend money the “same old way”. If, as LPOSD claims, the levy is for all extracurricular activities, why have the pushed the narrative with teachers that those who oppose the levy do not value them? This has nothing to do with extracurricular activities.

    I am in complete agreement with Ms. Rose’s comment that if LPOSD is so transparent, why do they publish information requests but not the requested information?

    Our local charter school receives not a cent from the levies. If I, as a property owner, am being taxed for schools, why aren’t the monies being shared?

    More money is NOT the answer. The answer is a forensic audit of the LPOSD and then a plan, going forward that makes the best use of the monies paid by the taxpayers, monies that directly benefit the student’s educational endeavors and the teachers who work so hard to educate them.

  9. I would like to address (on my duty free lunch break) the lies put forth by the Roses. I have never been paid or received a stipend by the football program. I have voluntarily done stats for 23 years for the football program. Home games, away games, state games, and while I was 9 months pregnant games. This is a perfect example of the Roses flat out lying about compensation in the school district.

    I also volunteer coached JV and Freshman softball for 7 years.

    When the Roses quote coaching stipends they are being misleading. What they call a “coaching stipend” is sometimes for coaches, but it also includes, Math Counts, Math Club, the Mars Rover Program, National Honor Society, Modal United Nations, Band, Choir and numerous other academic programs.

    Being an employee of the LPOSD does not invalidate my ability to support and provide accurate information about the supplemental levy. I am a citizen and a taxpayer. In the early 90’s our district did a terrible job. There were teachers with Vote No signs painted on their vehicles in the parking lot. There was the Kootenai school debacle, a superintendent whose contract was bought out, 5 principals in 4 years at SHS including a principal who sued for improper firing procedures, leaving SHS with effectively no principal for a semester.

    That is not the case today. The school district is efficiently run, transparent, provides our students with a low-cost, quality education. I trust and respect our administration. We have had a decade of external A+ Audits. The students in my AP Statistics Course have been in the top 20% in the nation 4 of the last 5 years.

    If you are simply anti-government, you have the right to a no vote. Put please do not take part in the lies and fake news put forth within this forum.

    • Thank you for the opportunity to clarify.
      1. In the fall of 2016, Activities Director Knowles made a presentation which stated “Coaching Salaries and Advisor Stipends – 110 positions.
      2. The approved line item document by the school board on Dec 13, 2016 – Coaching Salaries $436,727.
      3. In a document listing all the staff paid for by levy funds the line item for Ms. Auld – Extra duty, National Honor Society $1790.

      I have the documents provided by LPOSD to prove EVERY FACT.

  10. Yes. I do get a stipend for advising the National Honor Society, a service organization that has provided around 2000 hours of community service per year to organizations in Sandpoint. Students get valuable experience volunteering, have the opportunity to work with other students and adults leadership capacities, as well as maintaining high standards of both conduct and GPA. Using your FOI requests to state these facts are different from making lies (example: saying the football team pays a $5000 stipend for statistics when it really pays nothing).

    With a break in the levy cycle, ask yourself, how could I volunteer to make our community better. Take a break from the ReDoubt movement and look into the Day Break Center or the Sandpoint Community Resource Center. There are many organizations in the Sandpoint community that benefit from volunteers: Festival at Sandpoint, Bonner County Fair, Pend Oreille Cup, Bonner County Youth Court, Kinderhaven, Panida, SHS Math Club, PAFE, Scenic Half Marathon, Convoy of Hope, Sandpoint Lions Club, Sandpoint Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee, Sandpoint Nordic Club, Bay Trail Run, CHAFE, Yokes, Ready for Kindergarten, Angels Over Sandpoint, Panhandle Animal Shelter, Celebrate Life, Washington Elementary School, Jacey’s Race, Blue Haven, Pend Oreille Pedalers, Panhandle Special Needs Incorporated, Sandpoint Little League, Sandpoint Parks and Recreation Idaho Department of Lands/Bonneville Power Administration/Army Corps of Engineers, Toys for Tots, Sandpoint Rock Gym, Vacation Bible School, Lifecare, Bonner General Hospital, Hershey Track Meet, Water Festival, faith organizations.

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