Schools take hit now for better future

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During a brief, at times tense Coeur d’Alene School Board meeting last week, something was missing. Did anybody notice?

It was a song that should have been playing in the background. Rolling Stones. You remember:

You can’t always get what you want

You can’t always get what you want

You can’t always get what you want

But if you try sometimes you might find

You get what you need

District officials got not exactly what they want, but what they need. They agreed to pay 11 percent above appraisal for a hunk of land that, somewhere down the Prairie Avenue road, will be home to a new school. That could be four or more years from now.

Yes, they paid more than they wanted and there are hefty future costs with preparing the property for construction, but consider this tangential real estate item: The home formerly occupied by Lori and Larry Isenberg was most recently appraised at $253,300 and is on the market today for $491,000. Someone will probably pay it because real estate sources said lesser properties in the area have sold in the $600,000 range. That’s the kind of market Coeur d’Alene School District has been dealing with.

No, there isn’t enough money in the kitty now to prepare the Prairie property for the new elementary school that’s desperately needed and is being located, not ideally, on the site of Hayden Lake Elementary just east of Government Way on Hayden Avenue. With dramatic population growth occurring west of that site, the Prairie property would’ve been just about perfect for the new school, but it didn’t come together in time or within the district’s financial means.

Whether or not you consider that a failure because it’s fiscally responsible but not precisely what was promised to voters who are financing the new school is a matter of perspective. But this much seems certain: The district is doing now what should have been done years ago — creating a land bank for future expansion.

The district is also looking at a big piece of real estate farther to the west and a little north — which could become a significant campus perhaps including more than one school at a future date.

This experience has reinforced the idea that you’re playing a dangerous game hoping ideal property will be available and reasonably priced when you’re ready to buy. District 271 is building a bank that should pay dividends for years to come.

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