Future of Culdesac school district is uncertain after levy fails

Future of Culdesac school district is uncertain after levy fails »Play Video
Culdesac school bus drops kids off for 1st day of classes.
CULDESAC - Voters in Orofino said no to a nearly $8 million school bond. And in Culdesac, they said no to a $250,000 supplemental levy.

Over 1,500 people cast ballots in the Orofino School district. 943 people voted yes to the school bond. That's 62%, but not enough for the measure to pass.

In Culdesac, the district came up just short of the simple majority needed to pass the levy. 47% voted in favor and 53% of voters said no. School officials were relying on the funds to make up the gap in left by state cuts. This leaves the future of the Culdesac school district up in the air.

Wednesday was the first day of classes in Culdesac and teachers couldn't help but wonder what the future holds for this rural school.

"We have, especially in the secondary school, people who I'm sure as of this morning are wondering am I going to have a job next year," said special education teacher Beth Reiners.

Superintendent Darrell Olson said it's obviously a disappointment to lose out on the extra money, because he said it's the kids who will feel the effects more than anyone else.

"It adversely affects the kids and education is about children and what's right for them," said Olson. "And so it's a disappointment not to receive the necessary funding to provide them with a quality education.

Olson said the school board has already made some deep cuts to keep the programs going. Those include going to a four day school week. This year's budget was set without levy funding. Reiners said it's been tough, but somehow they're making it work.

"We don't have the things that we need," said Reiners. "We don't have the curriculum that we need, we don't have the books that we need to teach things like math. The administration has done a great job with making things work, but we need more help."

Obviously it's up to the school board to decide the fate of Culdesac Schools. But Olson said those discussions will likely include the very real possibility that Culdesac will have to close these doors to students.

"Our numbers are so low it makes it hard to offer a comprehensive high school program with the small number of students that we have in grades 7 through 12," said Olson.

Reiners understands that residents don't want to pay the additional taxes, but she said the public schools rely on the community support to teach the area's kids.

"We're all in this together," said Reiners.

The Culdesac school board will meet in a special session Wednesday night to discuss the next steps. Olson said that will likely include various public meetings to find out from residents what they would like the board to do.