Elementary and alternative high school share same campus, despite mixed concerns

DAYTON, ID – Last Wednesday, July 17, an open discussion was held at the West Side School Board Meeting in Dayton, Idaho about plans to share the campus with Franklin County High School. The high school will attend classes on the second level of Harold B. Lee Elementary. Opinions on housing the Franklin County High School were mixed. Some spoke highly of the alternative school saying that it offered different options for youth to graduate from high school. Others expressed concerns of having teenagers in such a close proximity to elementary-aged youth.

West Side School Board Chairman Tyler Bowles started the meeting by reminding community members that the situation was a short-term solution for one year. “Preston School District will pay our cost of our aides to assist in student monitoring. They’ve also agreed to work with us in terms of scheduling, access to and from school, all of which is designed to alleviate patron concerns,” Bowles commented.

Fred Titensor, Chairman of Preston School District, thanked the West Side School District for housing the Franklin County High School temporarily.

“We certainly did not want to come to you as a school board and say, ‘We have this burden and we’d like to hand it off to you,’” Titensor said. He then explained how the armory once housed the alternative high school until the armory was recently remodeled. Due to the amount of weapons in the armory after the remodel, it was decided that Franklin County High School could not be there.

While it is said Franklin County High School will be in the upstairs of the elementary school for a limited amount of time, some parents and patrons are nervous about the short-term fix.

“My problem is, high school kids should not be with elementary kids,” said Karen Naylor. “Some of them are dang good kids, but it’s the idea of the age difference. These high school kids deserve their own school. They deserve a better place than meeting above an elementary school for Pete’s sake.”

Others added they didn’t think the youth at Franklin County High School would cause problems for the grade school children. Kimberly Coats told of her son who graduated from Franklin County High School in 2005.

“If it hadn’t been for the county high school, he never would have graduated from high school,” Coats said. “He was able to graduate and succeed. He wasn’t a bad kid, he just had severe anxiety and could not function in a regular high school setting.” She also expressed that she could see why community members were nervous about the situation.

“I, too, understand the concerns of having the county high school on the campus with the younger kids. But as I understand it, there’s a separate exit and entrance. There isn’t any reason why those kids ever have to be downstairs in our elementary school at all.”

Titensor announced at the meeting that the Preston School District is looking at several different long-term solutions. One of these options is buying an existing structure. West Side School District has agreed to share the campus with the county high school for the next year or until another location is found.  

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