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Marsh Valley School District working to bring charter school to Lava Hot Springs

LAVA HOT SPRINGS, Idaho (KIFI) - Making up most of rural Bannock County, the Marsh Valley School District has seen a significant change in their enrollment numbers the past few years.

"Like most districts in Idaho, our enrollment has been declining over the last few years," said Marsh Valley School District Superintendent Gary Tucker. "We have four small elementary schools, and that has made it very difficult for us to continue to maintain all of our schools, because that enrollment has been declining."

With that decline, the school district has been motivated to make some changes. Their smallest school, Lava Elementary, has become a top priority.

"An idea that we've come up with now is to see if we can convert that elementary school into a charter school to be able to maintain a school there in that community, but to be able to work under a few different parameters so that we can save some money and still provide opportunity for kids up there," Tucker said.

The charter school would be free for students to attend. It would also be under the umbrella of the Marsh Valley School District, with separate funding for the school coming from the state.  

Tucker believes Lava Hot Springs is the perfect size for a charter school.

"They typically are smaller schools and as such they can cater to different kinds of students in a way that some of the regular public schools can't," Tucker said.

Tucker says as they have spoken to more and more people in the Lava community, they have gained more support. But he says there is still skepticism on the idea and that it was a very divisive one at first.

"Initially there was a lot of pushback, because I don't think people understood exactly what that would mean," Tucker said. "People are attached to having their school in their town as they should be. It's a great school and a great community. We just need to figure out how we can continue to have a school there."

Tucker believes a new charter school could be a win-win situation for the district, from both an educational and a financial standpoint.

"In looking at this, it looks like it could be a net benefit as far as money goes that comes from the state," Tucker said. "If this does turn into a charter school, there will probably be more money coming in overall than we get right now."

Tucker says if the plan for the charter school is approved, Lava Elementary would become a charter school in the Fall of 2025.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho

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Cole Sams

Cole is a reporter for Local News 8.


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