Voters in the St. Maries and Kootenai school districts approved supplement levies in the election last week.
St. Maries voters passed the $4,146,770 levy 579 to 359. The supplemental levy will replace the district’s current levy, which expires in June.
The board plans to use the levy to maintain current levels of funding for the district. Levy dollars make up 23 percent of the district’s overall budget.
Superintendent Alica Holthaus said she is thrilled and relieved by the passage of the levy.
“I am pleased that it had a 62 percent passage rate, which is very good,” she said. “It’s a sign of the public’s confidence in the school district. It feels good to leave that decision done for the new superintendent.”
Kootenai patrons gave their approval on a $2.746 million levy by a vote of 233 to 177. This supplemental levy is twice what the district proposed in 2021. The estimated total cost for taxpayers with the levy is slated at $93 per $100,000 of assessed value.
Superintendent Scott Davis said getting the community’s support means the district can continue to provide a quality education to local children.
He said the levy stabilizes the district’s fiscal situation and will allow them to keep class sizes down and work on needed repairs to the middle school heating system among other thing.
“When we laid out all the needs and their costs for the public to see when we presented the request,” Davis said. “We put a lot of thought into that. Those are real numbers and it really does provide us with the ability to keep going. Being a small district of course there isn’t a lot of leeway or things we can cut. We’ve got a long heritage here of providing a quality education to kids and we just want to continue that.”
He also said he believes that the district’s connection to the community is what has helped them get the levy passed.
“We are responsive to our community needs,” he said. “We are not perfect but we are making an effort and I think that makes a difference.”
Kootenai’s school board chair Heather Wilcox congratulated staff and the board for all their efforts.
“Everybody’s been really chipping in to get this thing across the finish line,” she said.
Benewah County saw 26 newly registered voters participate in this year’s election.
Lynn Ragan, county auditor, said the voter turnout for the levy-only elections is traditionally lower than regular. Less than a quarter of all registered voters turned out for the last two school levy elections.
“I don’t really know the reason for that,” she said. “As you can see when you compare the 2021 and 2023 tabulation reports, turnout was nearly identical.”
In the last levy election, March 2021, St. Maries got a yes vote from 596 of the 936 participating patrons. This year 579 patrons approved of the levy of the 938 total ballots cast. The number of participating registered voters increased by one percent.
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