Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Guest Editorial by Tom Taggart

There have been a number of letters, posts, comments, and emails concerning the upcoming levy election for the building of a 11th and 12th grade, professional-technical facility on the Rathdrum Prairie. Some of the critical comments have raised questions concerning the initial cost; the operational costs once the facility is open; as well as the governance of the facility. I will attempt to answer those questions as best I can.

I have been involved in local government in Kootenai County for over 28 years and I can tell you that this is one of the most amazing examples of cooperation and team work I have ever seen. We have three school districts, North Idaho College, local businesses, landowners, and the City of Rathdrum all working together to make this a reality. There have been challenges and disagreements along the way, but they have all been overcome as time after time individuals put aside their differences and focused on what is best for our children.

It was important that the property for this facility be centrally located to students of all three districts. It was also essential the property have access to sewer and water. Since the long term vision is to have a campus that includes KTEC, North Idaho College, and a High School all together, the property had to be at least 80 acres in size. The property that was acquired meets all these requirements.

The $9.5 million dollar, two year levy, will provide resources to build and equip the facility. In addition to having the 20 acre site donated, much of the equipment will be donated too. This will be a “pay as you go” project with no debt incurred. Each district is limited to levying the amount shown on the ballot. There is no situation where a district would levy more to make up for another district failing to pass the levy as some have suggested.

The KTEC facility will be governed under state law that allows school districts to join together in what are called “cooperative service agencies.” Coeur d’Alene, Lakeland, and Post Falls school boards have followed those statutes in creating KTEC. It is governed by a five person board comprised of the three school superintendents and two business representatives. Since KTEC was created by the districts, it can be changed by them, when and if necessary. KTEC will remain under the three school districts ultimate control. There will be an advisory board that will make recommendations to the governing board regarding curriculum, staffing, programs, equipment, etc. This is essential to any successful professional technical program.

The same three school districts currently operate the Riverbend Professional Technical School under the same statutes. It is a long running cooperative service agency. It is housed at the NIC Workforce training facility in Post Falls. It also has programs spread out in various areas. It doesn’t have room to grow and is hampered by the lack of adequate space. The operational budget for Riverbend will move into KTEC when it opens. This includes salaries, benefits, and other costs of running programs. It is expected that there will be increased attendance at KTEC due to the type of facility and the programs offered. The increased attendance will provide additional state funding that will help with the additional costs of maintaining the new facility. These costs will be in the thousands, not, as one letter writer suggested, the millions.

By pooling the resources of three school districts, programs can be offered that would be too expensive for any one district. It also spreads the costs out over all three districts so no one district bears too heavy of a burden.

For more information concerning the overall concept and the need for the facility, you can find excellent resources available on the Lakeland Website.

If you have any additional questions please email me at ttaggart@lakeland272.org.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Tom. This is a very informative post.