Coeur d’Alene Schools Can Serve River’s Edge

School overcrowding is always an issue in a growing community, and housing development projects do have an impact on schools. But not every development means that schools will be beyond capacity.

Some people have opposed the new River’s Edge development off Seltice Way just west of Atlas Road, arguing that the local schools will not be able to accommodate the increase in the school population. While the developers of River’s Edge are certainly sensitive to the concern, what many people fail to realize is that this issue has already been addressed, and the Coeur d’Alene School District has already indicated that it can handle any school impacts that the development will create. 

Housing Projects Cannot Move Forward Without Approvals From Impacted Services

In Coeur d’Alene, as in almost all municipalities, for any new land use proposal, developers must provide extensive information to the Planning and Zoning Commission, as well as to the City Council, before their projects are even considered. In order for these bodies to vote to approve or disapprove a project, the developer must show that relevant public service agencies and utilities will be able to accommodate the new development. This is especially true for housing developments.

One of the reasons River’s Edge was approved by the City of Coeur d’Alene was that it was able to provide information that was sufficient to satisfy the City Council’s concerns. River’s Edge had to specify the type and level of services the project would need, including sewer, water, power, traffic, emergency services – and schools. River’s Edge was able to obtain sign-offs from all these providers. Included in its submissions was a letter from the Coeur d’Alene school district that the district would be able to serve any students living in the River’s Edge complex.

River’s Edge is Unlikely to Cause School Crowding

River’s Edge lies within the district boundary served by Winton Elementary School. At present, the student: teacher ratio is 15:1 which is considerably lower than the state average of 17:1, and well within the preferred ratio, which is no more than 18:1.

At the high school level, it lies within the Lake City High School boundary. It is true that Lake City is currently a bit crowded, with a student: teacher ratio of 21:1 which is denser than the state average of 17:1. While this does present a problem, it is a systemic problem for the district, and not one caused by River’s Edge, which is currently only in the construction stage. However, because this has been an issue for some time, the school district is already addressing the need to serve more students, and the school has actually increased its hiring of teachers in the last few years.

Another reason River’s Edge is unlikely to have a significant effect on local schools is that the majority of its residents are not likely to be school-age children. It will have one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, but typical apartment residents in the area tend to be adults of working age. This is certainly true for the one-bedroom apartments, which comprise a good portion of the units in River’s Edge. 

It should also be noted that one of the problems that the Coeur d’Alene school district is encountering is that there is insufficient housing, and this includes housing for people it can attract to the area to teach. In Coeur d’Alene, the average teacher’s salary is about $57,000, which can be insufficient to afford a mortgage payment in the area, particularly in recent years as the price of houses has increased. However, it is sufficient to enable a teacher to afford apartment housing.

When more apartment homes are built in an area, experience shows that apartment rental rates decrease. In fact, apartment rental rates respond more readily to the market, because vacancy numbers usually dictate rental rates. River’s Edge will add more housing options to the current housing supply, making it possible for younger workers just starting out to be able to find an affordable place to live in Coeur d’Alene. 

For more information about the River’s Edge development and the new proposal they are putting forward to create a public riverfront esplanade, please review the information on this website.