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Asa Wood building eludes ruin

by Brad Fuqua & Western News
| January 21, 2011 12:52 PM

Gathering within the dry confines of

the Little Theatre on Monday night, the Libby School Board

discussed the usual topics found at such meetings along with

specific issues of the day.

But it was hard not to think about what

had happened only hours earlier when high water tried to find its

way into the district’s Asa Wood building, which houses grades

K-3.

Although officials can now breathe a

sigh of relief, the building actually came very close to never

opening again.

“Another 15 minutes one way or the

other and you’ve got 6-8 inches of water and it could be over,”

Libby Schools Superintendent Kirby Maki said. “It gets in

crawlspaces … you get mold and there would be all kinds of cleanup.

We wouldn’t be having school for a while.”

Water can have devastating effects on

buildings, especially on an aging structure like Asa Wood. The

district’s inevitable closure of the building could’ve occurred

this week if Flower Creek’s overflow made it past manmade

barriers.

Maki expressed gratitude for the effort

it took to save the building. School staff members, including

principal Scott Beagle, worked hard to keep the educational

institution dry. Ron Goodman, principal at Libby Middle School,

arrived on site with sandbags. Volunteers gouged ice and snow to

divert water onto the street or to the playground.

“What a community effort that was to

prevent damage to the elementary school,” Maki said. “The kids were

in school today like it never happened.”

As far as the meeting itself, various

agenda items were discussed, including an update on the bond

election and public perception. The district has been busy getting

information to voters with appearances at sporting events, chamber

of commerce and Rotary Club.

Among new business items, the district

will no longer offer retirement incentives. Maki said they hadn’t

been offered for some time but it was revisited as part of a union

agreement.

The board approved an election

resolution for Feb. 21, which involves two seats up for re-election

and possible action if the bond request does not pass. Terms

currently held by Tony Rebo and Paula Darko-Hensler will be up for

election on May 3.

The board also had its first discussion

of the 2011-12 school calendar. Few specific dates are included in

the preliminary look. Union groups will make their recommendations

in the process that leads to an eventual vote.

During the superintendent’s report,

Maki presented enrollment figures that showed 1,200 students in the

district. Enrollment numbers include 413 students at Libby High

School, 429 at Libby Middle School (grades 4-8), 340 at Asa Wood

(grades K-3) and 18 at Plummer (preschool).

Enrollment numbers have dropped each

month since classes began in September – down from 1,223.

Elementary and middle-school numbers are higher than last year but

high school enrollment has fallen by 49 students since January

2010.