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November marks 10-year anniversary of Riggins deconsolidation

Timeline for constructing two districts

Dec. 15, 2006 – Deadline for application to serve on one of two school boards. Overall, 22 applications were received for the 10 positions.

Dec. 18, 2006 – Joint School District 241 (JSD 241) reviewed applications and forwarded its recommendations to the Idaho State Board of Education (ISBOE).

Jan. 8, 2007 - ISBOE appoint new board members for the new districts. All members were to serve on an interim basis and would submit to the election process in May 2007.

Jan. 17, 2007 – Grangeville School District 244 (GSD 244) approved a motion to assume assistant superintendent Greg Bailey’s contract.

Jan. 31, 2007 – GSD 244 voted in favor of assuming the contract of Dr. Wayne Davis. He had another two years, through June 2009, remaining when voters opted to deconsolidate.

Feb. 28, 2007 – GSD 244 becomes Mountain View School District 244 (MVSD 244).

February 2007 – Riggins Joint School District 243 becomes Salmon River Joint School District 243 (SRJSD 243). Riggins hired retired superintendent Lewis McLin to conduct a search for its superintendent.

May 19, 2007 – SRJSD 243 hires Dr. Carl Morgan as superintendent. Angela Harrington hired as business manager.

The first boards of education for Salmon River and Mountain View school district

The individuals selected to represent SRJSD 243 were: Zone 1, Joyce Stapleton, current trustee of Riggins; Zone 2, William A. Carter of Riggins; Zone 3, Carolyn Friend of Riggins; Zone 4, Cindy Carlson of Riggins; and Zone 5, Richard A. Friend of Pollock.

The individuals selected to represent MVSD 244 were: Zone 1, Bobbi Bodine, current trustee of Grangeville; Zone 2, Susie Borowicz, current trustee of Elk City; Zone 3, Craig Spencer, current trustee of Grangeville; Zone 4, Roberta Joy Lee, current trustee of Kooskia; and Zone 5 Ray Stowers of White Bird.

— It was a divisive decision at the time, with some voters worried about the stability of an independent Riggins school district. Ten years ago, voters went to the polls and chose to deconsolidate Joint School District 241, which had been in place for 58 years.

“I think Riggins really wanted it, but there were a lot of emotions involved,” said Joyce Stapleton of Riggins. Stapleton was a board member for Grangeville Joint School District 241 (JSD 241) at the time of the deconsolidation. Through the transition, she was appointed to the Salmon River Joint School District 243 (SRJSD 243) board.

A simple majority, or 50 percent plus one, was required in both the overall district and in the new Riggins boundary. It passed in the overall district with 69 percent in favor and in Riggins by 72 percent.

At the time, Idaho County Clerk Rose Gehring said only 25 percent of the 6,000 registered voters weighed in on the measure. But JSD 241 chair Bobbi Bodine said “the vote for deconsolidation passed in every polling place.”

“This is a decisive declaration of support for deconsolidation,” she said.

For the time being, the two districts remained intact, operating under the oversight of the current JSD 241 trustees. Decisions began in earnest to establish two districts which would function independently as of July 1, 2007. For the time being, the overall district became known as Grangeville School District 244 and the new district was referred to as Riggins Joint School District 243.

After seeking public comments in January 2007, Grangeville selected Mountain View School District 244 for its official name at its February 2007 meeting. Former board member Jim Wiebush and his wife, Mindy, of Kooskia submitted the name eventually chosen.

Riggins hosted a public meeting Jan. 29, 2007, to discuss potential names. Riggins selected the name Salmon River Joint School District 243 at its February meeting. The impetus was the obvious proximity of the district to the Salmon River.

Bodine said there was a lot of work involved in transitioning, more so for Riggins than Grangeville. But she also noted a company was brought in to assist the two boards through the process. Between January and July, the GSD 244 board would meet followed by a meeting of the JSD 241.

“The biggest thing was getting personnel for the Riggins district,” Stapleton said. “There was a lot of growing pains and making adjustments. It was like a baby taking its first steps.”

But she said, the two teams worked cohesively to ensure the transition went smoothly.

“I was really sad to lose Salmon River … it’s more like losing a good friend,” Bodine said. “I’ve watched to see how they’re doing. They’re doing well on their levies. … They’ve done really neat things with remote classes and dual credits. For a little, tiny district, they are taking advantage of technology.”

Salmon River successfully passed a levy right out the gates. The year following deconsolidation, an April 25 edition of the Free Press announced Riggins voters had approved a $515,000 levy for SRJSD 243. Seventy-six percent of the voters were in favor of the motion.

At the same time, MVSD 244 was denied a $2.24-million levy, with only 47 percent of voters in favor. MVSD 244 went back to the table and began hammering out details for another levy option. After much discussion, the district presented a $1.5-million levy plan requiring a simple majority, 50 percent plus one vote. The measure was approved 1,393 to 1,338.

“Grangeville sporadically has had trouble passing a levy,” Bodine said.

She equates the first levy failure to monetary issues. The $2.24-million request was just too high for voters.

She also noted shifts in funding from the state as playing a role in the process. At the time, there was a shift from mill-levy funding from the state to reliance on sales tax. The funding from the Craig-Wyden Act, allowing districts access to money from timber sales, also was increasingly unreliable she said.

“It was all of those things coming together,” she said.

In the end, both districts moved forward to achieve individual successes.

“There was real hesitancy at first,” Stapleton said. “Now, people will tell you it’s the best move we ever made.”

Current superintendent for SRJSD 243, Jim Doramus, said the district has done well since the deconsolidation and expects for it to continue to succeed in the coming 10 years.

“[Deconsolidation] also hit as the same time as the recession,” he said. “There were other school districts in the state who really struggled, but we’ve been able to pull through.”

And whether it’s academic achievement — last year the district had the highest SAT scores in the state, Doramus said, or success in sports — a state championship win in football — the community pulls together in support of the schools.

“That’s one thing I can really say,” he said, “we’re really blessed down here. The community truly supports us.”


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