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Lima school concerned about its financial future and dwindling enrollment

LIMA SCHOOL .jpg
Posted at 7:26 AM, Dec 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-22 14:09:34-05

LIMA — The school here in Lima has just over 50 students K through 12. It’s a small school in a small town, but it has a big problem: it needs funding. And the folks in this small town say they need to keep this important school open.

“Everything in the town revolves around that school—everything,” said Lima resident Linda Cochran.

The school is facing a budgetary shortfall of about $157,000 along with a dwindling enrollment. Superintendent Brian Rayburn assured that the school will be open next year, but if things don’t change the future is uncertain. Many residents in this town about just over 200 people fear the loss of the school.

“It would be heartbreaking, it would be so sad and so I feel the school needs to stay running, needs to stay afloat, so then the community can continue to thrive,” said Lima Teacher Jennifer Wellman.

The school has 11 teachers educating the 57 students. Students say they enjoy their small school.

“There’s like no bullies or anything and our teachers are nice and it’s really fun for the kids, I think,” said student Audrianna Bernard.

They believe a small school education is beneficial to students.

“They learn not only a curriculum, but they learn life lessons. They learn to be a good neighbor and a good citizen,” said Rayburn.

Beaverhead County officials want the federal government to pay more tax on the 45,000-acre Red Rocks Lake Wildlife Refuge and will be pushing Montana’s congressional representatives to appropriate that funding.

“Well, they’re missing $100,000 per year of a contract with the federal government to pay to keep this school open. I think it’s critical that it needs to be done that way,” said Beaverhead County Commissioner Mike McGinley.

The school was built in 1924 when it was a booming railroad town. The school has a six-man football and basketball team with a small but dedicated roster. The mayor said it’s important not to lose the school.

“And we need to try our hardest to keep what we got here, keep this going,” said Mayor David Olsen.

Students agree.

“Save our school,” two students said.

The school has formed a financial committee to address the problem and will hold its first meeting on Dec. 26.