Elementary school in Almo voted to be closed down

BURLEY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) On a narrow 3-2 vote the Cassia County School District's board of trustees voted on Thursday to close Almo elementary.

Parent of an Almo Elementary Student, Phillip Christensen, discussing the Cassia County School District board of trustees 3-2 vote to close down Almo Elementary.

The vote came before a school district meeting, that was wall to wall, with attendees.

The school has 10 students between the grades of kindergarten and 3rd, and is the smallest in the district.

"They opted to close the school with the caveat that if they could raise the difference between what the state funding covers by June 28, when we have to send the report to the state they would consider keeping it open," Fiscal Manager and Board Treasurer for the Cassia County School District, Chris James sad.

The board made the decision to close the school due to the cost the district was eating to keep the school open.

"The projected deficit between expenditures and revenues was around $21,000," James said.

According to him the cost per student at Almo is more than at any other school in the district, but that it was still difficult for the board to make the vote.

"Anything that effects kids is emotional," James said. "It was a very emotional, and very hard on politically issue to vote on."

For parent of already at Almo Elementary and one he hoped would be attending this year, Phillip Christensen asked the school board along with other community members to keep the school open. He said the community had already been raising money to help cover some the cost the district takes in, and the community hopes to find grant money to keep Almo Elementary open.

"There are millions of dollars out there in grants," Christensen said. "But a lot of the grants for this up coming school year have passed. So if we can keep it open for one more year that will give us time to find more money through grants."

Christensen is worried if the monumental task of finding funds to keep the school open isn't reach it could negatively impact his kids, in part to the fact most students would be required to attend the further away Raft River Elementary for their schooling.

"My five year old and my eight year old will be on the bus for an hour and a half bus drive with the same bus with seniors in high school," Christensen said. "I understand that's what has to happened, but I don't feel comfortable with my son, sons being on the bus with older students that could learn different things that they shouldn't learn

Jame's says the issue of busing seemed to be the largest concern among Almo parents, and that he is sympathetic. As well as that he hopes the community knows just how hard it was to make the vote to close to Almo Elementary, and that parents can rest assured their children will receive a quality education at Raft River Elementary.

"They'll be greatly served at Raft River Elementary," James said. "There they'll have access to a principal and part time activities to help them out."

For Christensen, he still hopes something can be done.

"It's our community. Our community built it and it's shame to just have it thrown away."

James said the trustees were sensitive to the fact it might be a good idea to keep the facility in reserve in case the student numbers and population increase in the short-term.