In hopes the second time will be the charm, the Lewiston School Board embraced a resolution Monday calling for a local-option sales tax to pay for school construction.

Minus Brad Cuddy, who was absent, board members approved forwarding the resolution to the Idaho School Boards Association before its July 31 deadline.

The same resolution was defeated at the association's convention last year by a vote of 1,587 in favor to 1,985 against.

But submitting the proposal earlier this year means it will be evaluated by the association's executive committee, presented to boards across the state before the November convention and printed in the official agenda, Superintendent Bob Donaldson said.

Having the school boards association's approval could give the Lewiston district a leg up in getting the idea in front of the Idaho Legislature, he said, which approved a local-option sales tax that Nez Perce County used to raise money for its jail.

The half-cent sales tax approved by Nez Perce County voters in 2004 ended last year.

Board member Sheri Allen said the message to other school districts is that giving local voters the chance to approve a sales tax would put another option on the plate for construction funding.

Lewiston is proposing the method as it explores options to either remodel its existing high school or build a new one. School construction traditionally is paid for with property tax increases approved by voters, and Lewiston voters rejected such proposals for a new high school in 2004, 2010 and 2011.

Allen, who attended the convention last year, said she tried to explain the idea to delegates on the floor before the vote, but there wasn't time to reach enough people.

"It seemed like the ones we talked to were in favor of it, once we had that discussion," Allen said.

Donaldson said having the proposal on the convention's official agenda would be an improvement over passing out printed copies on the convention floor just before the vote.

"If you just look at the time frame, they get it well in advance," Donaldson said.

Also Monday, Lewiston High School students have three new classes to choose from starting next school year, at no additional cost to the district.

The board approved adding a yearlong exploring environmental issues class and two semester-long classes, web design and mock trial.

Curriculum Director Lisa Fenter said each of the three offerings includes at least some elements of the Common Core state standards being used by the district, including reading, writing, speaking, listening and analysis.

The classes will be taught by existing teachers, Fenter said, using materials already owned by the district and free online resources.

"All three are very different, but all three I think are very good opportunities for our students," she said.

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Stone may be contacted at mstone@lmtribune.com or at (208) 848-2244. Follow her on Twitter @MarysSchoolNews.

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