Legislators, LPOSD talk finances, schools - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

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Legislators, LPOSD talk finances, schools

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Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — Only time will tell what Lake Pend Oreille School District’s financial reality is.

Local school administrators and Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, and Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, outlined a variety of legislative actions that could impact the district in a Tuesday conference call. While Eskridge continues his work on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee to finalize the amount of money headed toward local districts, other factors like bills to replace the repealed Students Come First reforms, the fate of a proposed repeal of personal property tax, upcoming bills related to the gun control debate and the future of health care in Idaho will all affect the district.

According to Eskridge, the final appropriations for school district will likely reflect Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s proposed 2-percent increase in school spending and State Superintendent Tom Luna’s suggestion of 3 percent.

“From a personal perspective, I think we’ll be somewhere around three percent,” Eskridge said.

Discussions over the repeal of personal property tax throw local districts’ financial situation into more ambiguity. The proposal is meant to put more money in business coffers in hopes of spurring employment and economic development. However, district business manager Lisa Hals noted that such a measure would be a de facto increase on local property taxpayers. Because the amount of money collected from the supplemental levy wouldn’t change, home and property owners would pay a higher rate to reach that threshold.

While Otter has suggested counties implement local option taxes to make up the revenue shortfall from the repeal, Keough and Eskridge agree that they won’t support the measure unless the money is replaced by the state.

Legislators are also preparing to introduce legislation that would reintroduce some aspects of Proposition 1 from the defunct Students Come First reforms, which restricted collective bargaining rights and altered the teacher-district negotiation process. District officials noted that state authorities removed discussion of these items from the table in an advisory committee consisting of education professionals.

“I was disappointed by that,” Keough said.

On the same token, Eskridge worried that legislators were rushing to finalize the bills without sufficient public input, something many accused them of regarding the original reforms.

“I told people that we may be making the same mistakes we made before,” Eskridge said.  

Legislators may also be introducing bills next week in response to the Obama administration’s gun control package. While Eskridge said the specifics of the bills are still unknown, they may impact measures schools will take in ensuring safety.

Hals was curious about the use of a $33 million line item previously dedicated to teacher bonuses introduced by Students Come First. Keough said that while the decision regarding that money hasn’t yet been determined, she would like to see it bolster teacher paychecks.

“I think we should allocate it to salary, because that’s where the dollars were supposed to go,” she said.

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  • LakeViewer posted at 5:54 pm on Sun, Feb 10, 2013.

    LakeViewer Posts: 922

    You are right, Here Say. If our legislators believed in constitutional government, which they all espouse and have sworn to uphold, then our schools would be funded according to that constitution. The courts have ruled they are not doing so. Maybe the court should sanction the Governor and jail him until the State comes into compliance. It seems that would happen to me and you if we snubbed our noses at the rule of law and went our own way?

    The problem here is the Aristocracy in Idaho. The laws only apply to you and me, not the Aristocracy which controls the legislature, the courts and the executive branch. They do what they want, they have their "own private Idaho".

  • Here's What I Say posted at 3:42 pm on Sat, Feb 9, 2013.

    Here's What I Say Posts: 1240

    Perhaps the state would consider funding schools as required in the Idaho Constitution. Since they presently don't provide enough funding for any school system in the state, I'd say they are all in violation of the Idaho Constitution. Don't Republicans run Idaho?

  • WML posted at 9:35 am on Sat, Feb 9, 2013.

    WML Posts: 681

    @Corey Greve - post of 2:41 p.m. - Corey, according to stats kept by the federal government, less than 2.5% of gun crime is committed by people buying guns at a gun show. California has over 23,000 outstanding guns currently in possession by felons due to a faulty background check system. Most of those 23,000 guns were purchased at retail stores.

    As I recall, most of the weapons in the past 7-8 years used in mass shootings were either stolen or purchased legally.

    Bill Litsinger

  • Corey Greve posted at 2:41 pm on Thu, Feb 7, 2013.

    Corey Greve Posts: 930

    Reddawn, can you tell us how many mass shootings have occurred using a weapon that was purchased at a gun show without a background check?

  • reddawn posted at 10:08 am on Thu, Feb 7, 2013.

    reddawn Posts: 1771

    Well I guess the 3% is going to have to happen. We already pay alot in our taxes for our homes. Then add school guards and case workers we will need another several 100.000 to cover all the protection we need for our kids in schools, and with all the guns used in this county to kill many people just in the last few weeks we will need more police officers to cover the rise in crime with all the negitive energy out there of Fear it is just a sad beginning.With all the guns shows around here without back ground checks it will only will get worse.

  • bonnerben posted at 9:27 am on Thu, Feb 7, 2013.

    bonnerben Posts: 291

    An excellent article on law enforcement and school officials collaborating on planning and methods to protect our children. Thank you and congratulations to everyone involved.