Discussion of possible consolidation between the Enterprise and Joseph districts was stopped in its tracks Tuesday night when the Joseph school board voted unanimously to adopt a position against the proposed merger.
After superintendent Rich Graham read a prepared statement which came out of a Jan. 30 public workshop citing "formidable obstacles" to a successful merger. Among major objections was the prospect of committing Joseph taxpayers to 10 years of taxes to help pay for the Enterprise district current renovation project.
Both school districts have been scrutinizing a consolidation study prepared and recently released by the Wallowa County Education Service District in the wake of declining enrollments and financial problems by both district.
While the Enterprise board has come out in support of the proposal, feeling the merger idea is beneficial to the Enterprise district, Joseph board members came to the opposite conclusion.
"Because of the huge amount of debt disparity, the Joseph school board believes that at this time it would not be wise for us to consolidate," read the statement adopted by the board. "It would be more cost effective for Joseph district taxpayers to pass a local option levy and continue our planning for cost savings with our administration."
The board expressed the desire to continue to explore the sharing of programs and resources with both Joseph and Wallowa districts, with the help of ESD.
"Many of us were disappointed that there wasn't more cost saving in the plan," said Joseph board member Carol Baynes, speaking to Enterprise School Board member Bill Ables who had asked the Joseph board to delay a decision until more questions were answered.. "We were confident our community would not go for taking on your debt."