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Marsh Valley community pushes back against School consolidation plan

MARSH VALLEY, Idaho (KIFI) - More than 100 people have signed a petition for a vote of 'no confidence' in the superintendent of Marsh Valley School District 21.

They are opposed to a plan from school leadership to consolidate the district's four elementary schools into one. 

"If the people, if a majority of the people in this school district think the one consolidated grade school is best for us, then that's what it should be," said former Idaho Statesman Ken Andrus. "But we don't even know that. We're just being told by the school board and the superintendent that's what's best for us."

Ken Andrus has lived at his family's ranch in Marsh Valley since 1975. Each and every one of his children have attended a school in District 21.

When the school board first pitched the idea of combining the district elementary schools into one, concerned parents asked Ken to help with their petition.

As it stands today, School District 21 has 4 elementary schools. The largest, Mountain View Elementary has around 225 students.

According to District Superintendent Gary Tucker, combining schools would allow the district to provide a high-quality education at a lower cost to the county.

"We have 75 teachers right now," said Superintendent Tucker. "This year we're funded for 68. Next year we expect to be funded for fewer than that. And so we've got to make some changes. We've got to figure out a way to live within our means."

Despite that, the petition of no confidence in Tucker has already gained over 150 signatures. Superintendent Tucker has met with several of the people behind the petition.

"They (those in support of the petition) have told me that the patrons of this district would prefer to keep their own little elementary schools in all of their little towns," said Superintendent Tucker. "I asked this individual, I said, 'even if that's not what's best for kids?'"

Andrus says parents in the district don't have confidence in the district's leadership or the superintendent.

"(Superintendent Tucker) he would be better suited with those qualities in a more urban setting than a rural setting," said Andrus. "Where our district is made up of, of several rural communities who have, or have had grade schools in their community. That is in a community identity. And people don't want to give that up unless they have to."

Superintendent Tucker says he is open to hearing the community out. However, he believes that the 150 people who signed the petition are a loud minority of the over 4,200 people in the school district.

"Until they can show us that the majority of the people actually don't believe that we should be moving forward. I really think that we are on a good track," said Superintendent Tucker.

Andrus believes over 75 percent of the people in Marsh Valley are in favor of the petition. "We're confident we can do it," said Andrus.

So, what's next?

Parents in the Marsh Valley School District are planning to hold a meeting to discuss the petition and other issues facing the school district.

For more information on the petition, click HERE.

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Seth Ratliff

Seth is a reporter for Local News 8.


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