School board tries to figure out next move
Among the decisions that need to be finalized by the school board is whether or not Asa Wood will close after this school year ... or will it be put off by another year?
The vote on the bond issue is in … and
it didn’t turn out the way school board members had hoped.
Now, it’s back to the drawing board to
figure out just what can be done to continue offering a high level
of education to Libby’s youth. During a special meeting on
Wednesday night, board members shared a collective feeling of
disappointment that the bond failed.
Before continuing down the road of what
to do next, board members wanted to know why the public voted
A variety of opinions were offered
ranging from fear that taxes will go up based on the reality that
Flower Creek Dam must be replaced to people not realizing the
severity of the situation because they drive by the school and
“everything looks fine.”
“Maybe we should shoot out all of the
windows,” board member Lee Disney joked.
But there were few of those light
moments during this meeting. The future of Libby Schools is clouded
with declining enrollment, shrinking budgets and the possibility
that teacher layoffs could be on the horizon.
If the board again goes to the people
with a vote, they want to know how to reach those residents who
“It’s hard to reach everybody with that
information,” board chairperson Tracy Comeau said. “Not everybody
reads the newspaper, not everybody listens to the radio.”
“You guys tried very hard to inform
people,” Libby High School Principal Rik Rewerts said. “Those who
wanted to be informed were informed.”
Board member Paula Darko-Hensler was
disappointed that voters didn’t want to approve what she said was a
long-term solution that would have saved money.
“So, we have to go with a short-term
solution to keep the doors open,” she said. “And that would be a
levy and I don’t see any other way out of it.”
Comeau said everywhere she talked to
people, it seemed like a no-brainer to vote yes.
“The problem is we didn’t reach 1,800
people and make them understand that this makes sense,” she
“You reached 1,100 people and that’s a
lot,” Rewerts added.
Although a sense of urgency seemed to
fill the air, school superintendent Kirby Maki told the board that
they have time to reflect on the election outcome and decide by the
Feb. 21 general meeting on its next move. Possibilities include
another bond election – perhaps for a lesser amount – or a tax levy
“If it’s a lower amount, then we would
need to consult with the architects,” Maki said. “You have to be
careful about what you’re going to lose … what people will get for
Board member Tony Rebo agreed.
“At this point, it’s probably best to
have a work session with numbers from CTA and figure out what the
next best bang for our buck is,” he said.
Maki said if a bond issue election runs
again, it could severely impact any previous construction
“The only concern I would have if we
run it again May 3, does that mean we’re into 2013 before the
project is completed,” Maki said.
The board plans to meet for a work
session following its agenda meeting this coming Monday. The board
will follow with its general meeting on Feb. 21.
Rewerts showed appreciation for the
hard work that the board put in to try to get the bond passed.
“I’m sorry it didn’t turn out the way
we wanted it to but I wanted to publicly thank you,” Rewerts