With Naples Elementary saved, district must fix budget

Boundary County schools need to cut $250,000

Now that Boundary County voters have opted to keep Naples Elementary School open for another year, the school board will meet Monday to discuss how to cut $250,000 from the district’s budget.

County voters on Tuesday elected to keep Naples open, 58 percent to 42 percent. At 9 a.m. Monday, the school board will meet in executive session to discuss personnel issues related to the budget shortfall. After the executive session, the public will be allowed to sit in on the meeting.

“Naples families are heaving a big sigh of relief,” said resident Shirley Anderson. Anderson’s husband and children went to Naples, and her grandchildren currently attend. After Monday’s meeting they will be more comfortable about the future, she said.

Although Naples will remain open, it is uncertain what the school will look like next year, said Principal Jim Nash.

In a presentation prepared by the board before the vote, other potential savings listed include more furlough days, cuts to staff and administrative salaries, cuts to benefits or the consolidation of other elementary schools in the district.

“Nothing in itself makes $250,000, so it will have to be a couple of things combined,” said school board member Lisa Dirks, who represents the Naples area. Although Dirks didn’t want Naples to close, the difficulty will come in deciding what to do next, she said.

The vote was an unusual circumstance for school closure. When Naples consolidated into Boundary County School District in 1947, it was written into law the school could only be closed through a countywide vote. The other elementary schools in the district, including Valley View Elementary, Mt. Hall Elementary and Evergreen Elementary, can be closed by vote of the school board.

“The Naples community feels that all the rural schools are important. People realize that Naples is safe but other schools don’t have the same protection,” Anderson said. “We’re hoping there are people from all the communities at the meeting to stress to the board how important rural schools are in the area.”

Nash also said the Naples community will support other rural schools to stay in operation.

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