- Associated Press - Thursday, June 12, 2014

YONCALLA, Ore. (AP) - A small Southern Oregon school district may be coming to the end of the road, thanks to a busted boiler at the high school.

Officials at the Yoncalla School District in northern Douglas County say the boiler itself will be fixed for next school year - insurance will see to that.

But when the 1949 equipment failed in March, the school board decided to figure out whether the district could afford to repair its aging high school or should it merge with a neighboring district. It’s having meetings this month to figure out which way to go.

The district has about 270 students, 80 in high school and a graduating class of 22 this year. The town itself has a population most recently estimated at about 1,000, and like much of southern Oregon it has been hurt by the decades-long slump in logging and milling.

“The high school is close to the end of its life, and we don’t have much time left in it, at all, if we don’t do something,” interim Superintendent Jim Robinson told the Roseburg News-Review (https://bit.ly/SEcf5r).

An architectural firm estimates the high school building and grounds need $5 million in repairs. A new high school might cost more.

A $5 million bond issue over 20 years would cost residents about $450 a year on a $150,000 house, Robinson said.

“It would be difficult,” he said. “Not impossible, but very difficult. Those are very large numbers for a district as small as Yoncalla.”

In 2003, the Yoncalla district proposed merging with the North Douglas School District in Drain, where voters were receptive. But Yoncalla voters didn’t want to see their district disappear.

Robinson said the residents at the district meetings show they realize the gravity of the choices the district faces, and it’s no light thing to contemplate the end of the Yoncalla district, part of the town’s identity.

Yoncalla and North Douglas have been rivals in sports for years, Robinson said.

“Probably more than the rivalry itself, they would no longer be the Yoncalla Eagles,” he said. “Communities center themselves around their schools, and that’s not to be overlooked.”

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Information from: The News-Review, https://www.nrtoday.com


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