SANDPOINT — After waiting anxiously for the election results Tuesday night, Lake Pend Oreille School District officials were thrilled to see the turnout of support for the district's $17 million supplemental levy.
"We were so happy with the results last night, it was unbelievable," said district superintendent Shawn Woodward on Wednesday. "We are thrilled because of the level of trust that was shown by the community with the vote."
The levy passed with 64-percent voter approval with 4,991 voters in favor and 2,806 against the levy. With 7,797 votes cast, Woodward said he believes the turnout was the highest it has ever been for a supplemental levy election in the district. It was also the second highest passage rate for a supplemental levy in the district, he said.
"Typically we might get anywhere between 3,500 and 5,000 for a supplemental levy, but we had close to 8,000 turn out," Woodward said.
Woodward said the volunteers throughout the process have been "great," and believes the vote was bolstered by the amount of attention the levy received on social media, efforts like the door-to-door campaign last weekend, as well as the more traditional efforts like sign holding and letters to the editor.
"All of those things raised the level of awareness for people about the issues," he said. "It says a lot about how active people are in this community ... It feels good when you have that large of a turnout — it is a pretty resounding 'yes' for schools."
The turnout for the LPOSD levy was also the highest in North Idaho Tuesday, ahead of the Coeur d'Alene School District by 751 voters. In other area school districts, just over 1,300 voters cast their ballots in the Post Falls bond and levy election, nearly 3,000 in the Lakeland Joint School District, 1,254 in the West Bonner School District and 1,450 in Boundary County. All levies and bonds in the region were approved by voters. In fact, with $715 million in levies and bonds across the state that went to voters Tuesday, $695 million were approved, according to Idaho Education News.
LPOSD's two-year, $17 million supplemental levy will replace the current levy that expires in June. The district depends on supplemental funds to cover approximately 30 percent of its overall operations.
Levy dollars in the district fund one-third of all staff, all academic and athletic extracurricular activities, technology and curricular material, professional development, will extend full-day kindergarten and support Clark Fork Junior/Senior High School's experiential learning program. The levy will also support an elementary school counselor and full-time certified nursing assistant.
After months of focusing energy and time into the levy, Woodward said he is excited to get back to focusing on putting that energy into making the school district better and planning for next year.
So now the planning phases begin. The next step, Woodward said, is to work on adopting a budget for the 2017-2018 school year. The Board of Trustees will begin that process in April. After that, district official will begin building a plan for next year, looking at every facet and every department in the district.
"We will begin looking at what is our vision for the future, and what actions and strategies are we going to take next year that will get us closer to that vision," Woodward said.
Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.