BLACKFOOT — Members of the Blackfoot School District board of trustees heard a report about the feasibility of consolidating the Blackfoot Sixth Grade School with Mountain View Middle School during Thursday's monthly meeting.
"Do we continue in the way we do business or be progressive in our thoughts," Deidre Taylor asked as she introduced the committee's report on the subject.
She said the possible move has two components—academic and financial.
Taylor, principal of the Sixth Grade School, suggested, "we need to look at creativity and social networking" as academic pieces for the students who would be affected by such a change.
She pointed out that House Bill 426 is currently under consideration in the Idaho Legislature. Its goal is to provide a vehicle for all students to move on successfully.
Taylor said the committee examined a nearby example with sixth, seventh and eighth grade students together in Pocatello's Hawthorne Middle School.
Financially she said potential scenarios could reduce staff and save the district between $200,000 and $350,000. Such a move could result in the loss of four and one-half teaching positions.
"I have lived through what we talked about," said Ron Reese, another member of the committee studying the possible move. He was an educator in Blackfoot for 42 years, serving as an administrator during several changes in the way schools serving the sixth through eighth grade students has been configured.
He moved that Blackfoot Junior High had seventh, eighth and ninth grade students from 1976 to 1985. Then the ninth grade was moved into the high school and sixth graders were moved into the junior high.
In 1992, when the student population reached nearly 1,200, the district instituted year-round school. That program remained in place for two years. Then, in 1994, the Blackfoot Sixth Grade School came into being.
"The message I have for you," Reese told members of the board, "is proceed with caution."
Trustee Pete Lipovac asked Reese if he was recommending a return to a year-round calendar. Reese responded, "no, but if you did, you wouldn't have to build for a long time."
Superintendent Scott Crane told the trustees, "we're not asking for a decision now. Talk to your patrons; ask what they want."
R. Scott Reese, the board chairman said any decision on consolidation of the two schools is at least a year out.
In other action the board recognized the We The People competitive government class which won the state championship and Patricia Farmer, who was honored as the state's special education administrator of the year.
"It's pretty cool to recognize champion after champion, both athletic and academic," Scott Reese said.
Crane presented the students with a symbol of unity called a fascia and noted the district will support their travel to Washington, D.C., for national competition at $250 per student. Sixteen will make the trip in late April.
"Take it with you to Washington, D.C., with our authority and our honor," Crane said of the symbol which dates from the Roman Empire.
Farmer said her award is "very special to me because it comes from the district." People in the district, including members of her staff, nominated her for the award.
Scott Reese also recognized four representatives of Boy Scout Troop 262 who were in attendance to meet a requirement of the Citizenship in the Community merit badge.
The board's next meeting will be at Fort Hall Elementary School on March 29.