Consolidation proposal divides superintendents

Voters in two rural Eastern Idaho school districts will vote on a merger in May — and the idea appears to have the districts’ superintendents divided.

North Gem and Grace patrons will decide on the merger proposal May 19, the Idaho State Journal reported Friday, and patrons in both districts will have to sign on in order for the plan to go through.

North Gem Superintendent Curry Donaldson tells the Journal that he sees no advantage to a merger — and says the idea was floated only to sink bond issues in his district.

Not so, says Grace Superintendent Jamie Holyoak, who also was North Gem’s superintendent for two years. “The petition for consolidation was meant to save programs, not to defeat the bond,” Holyoak told the Journal.

North Gem has had a checkered history with bond issues. In May 2014, a $4.8 million bond issue appeared to pass with precisely the two-thirds supermajority needed to pass. After a recount, the bond issue fell one vote short of passage.