Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Board to weigh Libby's school consolidation issues

by Brad Fuqua & Western News
| September 24, 2010 12:41 PM

The Libby School Board moves closer and closer to finalizing details of campus consolidation but hopes to receive feedback and questions from the public during a special meeting on Monday night.

“The board has gone through a process and will look at this to make some determinations on what we might do,” school superintendent Kirby Maki said. “It will be good for people especially when we open it up for questions and answers.”

The special work session begins at 7 p.m. Monday at the Little Theatre. The meeting will open with a short presentation that provides an overview of the process, including what lies in the future.

“We will talk specifically about consolidation of K-6 in the middle school and 7-12 in the high school and the closure of Asa Wood,” said Maki, who added that he would have a short presentation that illustrates why certain decisions have been made over time.

Questions will then be answered during the “community input” portion of the meeting. Those in attendance will have the opportunity to submit a question or make comments in writing when coming in the door.

“We might learn some things we didn’t think of during the process,” Maki said.

Another topic of discussion will likely involve a proposed bond issue. During its regular meeting earlier this week, the board talked about the possibility of voting on a resolution at its October meeting. The timeline would place the bond issue on the ballot for a vote in February – possibly through a special ballot mail-in election.

Maki said the board is looking at a $12 million bond issue.

“Basically, it could’ve been a lot more, it could’ve been less but with that amount of money, we came to the conclusion that it really takes care of students as we move them and also takes care of upgrades for the next 20-plus years,” Maki said. “Those will be discussions that we have during a number of meetings leading up to the potential bond issue (election). First they have to pass a resolution.”

Money is an issue that will not go away whether it involves consolidation or keeping the teaching staff intact. During this week’s school board meeting, Maki reiterated to the board that a $400,000 to $450,000 budget shortfall is real.

“We’ll have two or three more years of losing enrollment, especially in the high school,” Maki said. “We don’t think we can cut too many more teachers; it’s become problematic for us. A lot of things hinge on the bond issue and if that doesn’t happen, we’ll have to reconsider our options.”

The school board also expects to talk about the future of the Asa Wood building. Opinions vary, including Maki’s proposal to make it a school/community center.

“The view I’ve had over time is we need the green space; there is stuff going on there all the time,” Maki said. “The view would be that we save the gym and have an economical heating system put in there for a minor amount of money. The EPA would help us take down the part with vermiculite in it.”

Under Maki’s proposal, the building would be controlled by the school but also available for community functions.