What’s in the March 2019 School Levy?
On March 12, 2019, Bonner County residents will vote on a school levy that comprises 30 percent of Lake Pend Oreille School District’s (LPOSD) annual budget for the next two years. This is a replacement levy (not supplemental) replacing the expiring levy from two years ago.
The requested funding is $12,700,000 for 2019 and for 2020 totaling $25.4 million and will fund (source and more details):
- 300 full and part-time staff positions to keep class size reasonable
- A wage increase for our teachers and staff (excluding our Superintendent and CFO)
- Small rural schools
- Academic and athletic extracurricular activities
- Curriculum and instructional materials
- Professional development and mentoring for staff
- Technology and teaching materials
If the levy doesn’t pass, items listed above simply don’t get funded.
- One-third of all district staff; ~ 300 full and part-time positions will be eliminated. A reduction in the number of teachers means class sizes get larger and individuals get less attention.
- Teacher salaries suffer – This has been a continuing problem as Idaho teacher salaries struggle to compete regionally. LPOSD first-year teacher salary is $35,800, while a first-year teacher in Newport, WA earns $43,100, a 40-minute commute from Sandpoint.
- Schools are consolidated and smaller rural schools close.
- All academic and athletic extracurricular activities will be eliminated.
- Technology, all curricular materials, and professional development will either be eliminated or become outdated.
If the levy does pass, property taxes will be affected:
- The proposed levy represents 27 percent of your property tax bill (the statewide school average is 30 percent)
- The tax rate in Bonner County is currently $166 per $100,000 of assessed value. (For reference, Lakeland School District in Rathdrum is $836 per $100,000 of assessed value.)
- If your home is assessed at $250,000 you are currently paying 20.75 per month. The proposed levy will increase that to $27.67/month. That’s an increase of under $7/month.
- Find out exactly how your taxes will be affected by using the levy calculator on the LPOSD website.
Teacher Pay and Why It’s Important
The single determinant of a student’s success is teacher expertise. (Learn more here.) Therefore, if we want to retain top talent, we must begin to compensate them more competitively.
Teacher and staff salaries comprise the bulk of the levy. This includes all staff except for our superintendent and CFO. Our teachers are compensated far lower than the national average. For example, first-year teachers at Mead School District north of Spokane in Washington State are paid just under $10,000 more than first-year teachers at Lake Pend Oreille School District. (See slide six in this presentation deck for salary comparison.)
“My wife is actually a school teacher in the Pullman School District for numerous reasons.
One of them is because the pay is a lot better,”
– Idaho State Senator David Nelson – Spokane Public Radio
We have control over our education funding
Here’s the good news. It is up to us as self-reliant and independent thinking Idahoans to determine the future of our education through our vote every other year on the levy. Learn more about how Idaho schools are funded here.
How and where to vote:
You can vote at your regular county precinct polling site on March 12.
Absentee ballots are available online at www.idahovotes.gov
Bonner County Clerk’s Office:
1500 Hwy 2, Ste 124, Sandpoint