Spokane Journal of Business

North Idaho school districts prep voter-approved works

Three funding measures to come to $38.7 million, mostly for construction

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Funding measures totaling $38.7 million that were approved by voters in three Kootenai County school districts last month mostly will go toward construction projects, the districts say.

The Coeur d'Alene schools bond is by far the largest measure, at $32.7 million, followed by a $4 million plant-facility levy for the Rathdrum-based Lakeland School District, and a $2 million bond measure for the Harrison-based Kootenai School District.

The Coeur d'Alene School District's 13-year bond measure, which garnered 72 percent voter approval, will fund major renovations at five schools and replace outdated heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems at five others, says Laura Rumpler, a spokeswoman for the district. The funding also will provide technology upgrades throughout the district, she says.

Renovations planned for Canfield Middle School and Borah, Bryan, Sorensen, and Winton elementary schools will include expanding or modernizing the school buildings, removing portable classrooms, updating HVAC systems, and improving parking and traffic flow, Rumpler says.

The schools range in age from 37 to 84 years old, and none of them have had significant updates in 30 years, she says.

Some portables have long exceeded their life expectancy and have problems with heating and cooling, the district's website says. Portables also cause safety concerns because entries to them are separated from the main school buildings by active driveways and parking lots.

Since the election, the school district has issued requests for qualifications for design and engineering firms for the Canfield, Borah, Bryan, Sorensen, and Winton projects, Rumpler says. The district likely will prefer the design-build process, which would allow design and construction to proceed simultaneously, Rumpler says.

Individual value estimates for the renovation projects range from $3.9 million for the work planned at Sorenson to $8.7 million for the Canfield project.

Qualifications are due Oct. 8, and the district hopes to approve separate contracts for each of the five schools on Nov. 5, Rumpler says. Construction would begin in March and be completed by the spring of 2015, she says.

Smaller projects that will include HVAC system upgrades will be addressed at Coeur d'Alene and Lake City high schools, Hayden Meadows and Fernan elementary schools, and the Hayden Kinder Center, Rumpler says.

The bond measure also will fund wireless and hard-wired technology updates throughout the district, including installing or upgrading voice and data networks and video security systems, she says.

The district's goal is complete the bond projects within three years, she says.

The Coeur d'Alene School District operates 17 schools and serves 10,160 students.

Lakeland School District

The Lakeland School District measure, which passed with 61 percent voter approval, will levy $800,000 annually for five years to fund facility repairs, energy-efficiency improvements, and other items.

Tom Taggart, Lakeland's director of business and support services, says the district is sorting out its priorities for the funds. They mostly will be used for "fairly routine and small projects like parking lots or roof replacements," he says.

Such projects likely would be put out to bid starting next spring, Taggart says.

Funds also could be used for technology and safety improvements and to buy school buses and furniture, he says.

The Lakeland School District has 11 schools and serves 4,150 students, Taggart says.

Kootenai School District

The 10-year, $2 million Kootenai School District bond, which passed with 76 percent voter approval, will pay for land acquisition and improvements to the district's wastewater treatment system, says Lynette Ferguson, the district's superintendent.

The improvements will include constructing a new sewer lagoon and land application system on a minimum of 20 acres of land. The district expects to select a site for the lagoon and land-application from among six options for land it has identified in the Harrison Flats area, Ferguson says. Harrison Flats is a rural plateau checkered with farmland west of the school facilities toward Lake Coeur d'Alene.

"We're working to tie up the purchase this fall, complete the design over the winter, and begin construction next summer," she says.

Welch Comer & Associates Inc., a Coeur d'Alene-based engineering firm, is designing the project. The district hasn't selected a contractor for it yet.

The district operates an elementary school, a middle school, and a high school, serving a total of 241 students. The schools are on a shared campus south of state Route 97, about seven miles southeast of the town of Harrison.

The district's current lagoon, which was constructed in 1977, is next to the front parking lot of the campus, Ferguson says.

Mike McLean
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Reporter Mike McLean covers real estate and construction at the Journal of Business. A multipurpose fisherman and vintage record album aficionado, Mike has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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