GRANGEVILLE — After reviewing several options and discussing various alternatives, Mountain View School District 244 trustees made the decision Jan. 16 to ask for a $3,090,048 million levy in March.

The board voted 4-1 in favor of going to the $3 million mark as well as transferring $600,000 from reserves to balance the budget and make up for the loss of Secure Rural Schools funding.

Trustee Casey Smith of Clearwater voted no, though chair Mike Dominguez of Kooskia said he had hoped the board could stand united in its efforts to present a levy.

More than 30 people showed up to the meeting, most of whom simply listened to the discussion on the levy, multiage classes and various other business items.

“We have been financially responsible, and I believe we need to ask for what we need,” said Dominguez. “I say take it to the taxpayers and let them decide.”

Vice-chair Lot Smith of Grangeville pondered several comments and options prior to speaking.

“Before tonight, I would have said hold it to the previous year’s amount –” he said, before he realized the district is only sitting on about $2.3 million in reserves. “As a business, that’s pretty frightening.”

Dominguez asked the board if it did want to keep the levy at the same amount as it has been for the past five years — $2.6 million – “What’s your plan to offset that amount next year?”

Trustee Brad Lutz of Grangeville agreed.

“My concern is, with only that $2.3 million in reserves, what would we do if something major happened and we had any issues to deal with?” he asked.

Board member Rebecca Warden of Grangeville said whatever the amount, it should be final.

“We go with it. We don’t try to run the levy again for a lesser amount. If it fails, it fails. That’s the community’s answer,” she said.

Lot Smith agreed, and added he would “never vote to get rid of extracurriculars.”

“For me, sports is the last thing I’d cut. I’d rather increase class size. There’s value in sports – we get a lot of bang for our buck,” he said.

Superintendent Marcus Scheibe said at around $300,000, extracurriculars make up a “miniscule amount” of the budget.

Casey Smith commented little, but did say he felt the levy rate was “very high.”

In other news, the board extended a two-year contract to Scheibe and said they would be discussing “other contingencies” of this offer during executive session.

Scheibe also reported he had received 14 e-mails from the community regarding multiage classrooms.

“Basically, most people are not fans of K-1 classrooms,” he said.

Audience member Arge Jeffrey of Grangeville voiced his opinion, explaining he is a retired executive director of elementary education in a school district with 1,000 teachers.

“I agree with the testimony I saw voiced [in the Free Press},” he said. “Combined K-1 doesn’t work – and I have the scars to prove it.”

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