Yes vote is the only answer for our schools

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The battle of misinformation has been waged by a small group of naysayers in Bonner County. They question the need and second-guess those tasked with educating our young minds.

However, it’s time to take a stand and say we support the direction our school district is going and we give the Lake Pend Oreille School Board and administration a thumbs-up for turning a mediocre program into one of the best in the state.

Of course, spending doesn’t always translate into a better education, but our district continues to rank high in student graduation levels and in the number of students continuing on to post-secondary education. The proof is in the product, our children.

The Great Recession saw Idaho cut nearly 16.9 percent in the span between 2008 and 2014, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Only Arizona (-23.3 percent) and Alabama (-21.4 percent) are worse.

Idaho purposely shifted a large portion of the burden for education directly to taxpayers within the district; thankfully, you have answered the call.

Let’s face it, state funding would only provide the bare necessities if not for this supplemental levy and we all know that a minimal education doesn’t create a well-rounded contributor to society.

Here are a few facts provided by the school board:

• This levy has nothing to do with the plant facilities levy that failed last year. This is a basic maintenance-and-operations levy to supplement what that state does not provide. Eighty-two percent of the districts in Idaho run supplemental levies just like this one.

• The cost of this levy is to replace an existing levy that expires in June. On a home with a value of $250,000 with a homeowner’s tax exemption the cost will go up $6 over the year in the first year and another $6 in the second year. That’s $12 over a two-year period.

• The levy funds approximately 300 full- and part-time staff members. The naysayers like to confuse you with this number but it equates to approximately 165 FTE’s or full-time equivalents.

• Our school district’s tax rate is 48 percent below the state average yet we consistently rank in the top three for graduation levels.

Despite the best efforts by the state of Idaho we are still not back to pre-recessionary spending levels for education.

Your school district and school board have made extensive attempts at providing information to the voting public. Shawn Woodward is one of the finest school superintendents in the state in our humble opinion and he has done an outstanding job at directing the efforts to improve our schools.

This community has historically supported our schools and we encourage you to vote yes to continue these efforts. Let’s not fail our future generations of leaders and let’s not provide anything less than the skills and education necessary for our youth to have the knowledge and skills to succeed in life. Please vote yes so we can tell future residents that progressive thinkers are in control of our direction.

Jim McKiernan is the publisher of the Bonner County Daily Bee. He can be reached at jmckiernan@bonnercountydailybee.com.

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