- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) - School district officials in northern Idaho’s Coeur d’Alene say they’re $1.8 million short when it comes to paying for a new school scheduled to open next fall.

The Spokesman-Review (https://bit.ly/1GLTAac ) reports Superintendent Matt Handelman discussed the shortfall Monday night during a school board meeting. Handelman said he learned about the shortfall about two months ago, and has since increased oversight of the $8 million construction project.

Winton Elementary School, the oldest school in the district, was originally going to be renovated for about $5 million. But the school board decided instead to tear down and rebuild the school, making it large enough for an additional 160 students. That boosted the price tag to more than $7.2 million.

District officials hoped to cover the additional cost through savings on other bond projects, the sale of extra property and other measures, but it wasn’t enough, Handelman said.

The bond projects were managed by the district’s former chief operating officer, Wendell Wardell. But Wardell left the post last month, and district officials haven’t said what prompted his departure because it is a personnel matter.

Board chairman Christa Hazel said the funding issue can be solved without delaying the opening of the school. Trustees will consider using district reserves or selling property to cover the cost.

The district had about $7 million in contingency funds at the start of the year, Handelman said, and that money could be tapped to cover the shortfall, though it would leave the reserves slim for next year.

“So it creates a challenge. It’s not insurmountable, but it’s a challenge,” he said.

The district needs to close the gap by June 30, the end of its fiscal year. T.W. Clark Construction of Spokane is scheduled to finish the school in July.

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Information from: The Spokesman-Review, https://www.spokesman.com


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