The Ola School, built in 1910 by the Ola community, is a charming building on the Historic Register, and was donated (at no cost) to the public-school administrator. The school has continued to be used for its original purpose for over a century, and is one of the last two-room schools in the State of Idaho. The Ola School serves not only the children in grades kindergarten through sixth, but also serves each community member who attends or participates in school and community events. Student numbers range from 15-25 annually, with 2 aides and 2 full time teachers.
Last year, the report that the Ola School building was unsafe and would be closed for use, surfaced only four days before the 2019-2020 school year began. Our community reacted without hesitation, insisting the students use the one and only community building in Ola, the Ola Community Center. We had to relocate the entire school to this smaller facility in order to keep our students local. According to Trout Architect analysis, the school needs approximately $570,000 to resolve significant dry rot issues, bring it up to seismic stabilization and meet current code standards. We have never before had to ask for large amounts of funds from our community, or extend to those outside the Ola Valley, but this financial situation requires it.
The Emmett School District is appropriating some funds for our school with additional dollars planned from a bond in May 2020. However, public school funds as a sole source of revenue is unpredictable since the Emmett School District has failed to pass a bond since 1998. The Ola community itself has contributed year after year, by raising funds and implementing building repairs; including but not limited to - interior and exterior paint, playground and picnic shelter enhancements, environmental study area with drip irrigation, and a new 20x24’ storage shed. Currently, the Ola community is working to raise as many funds as possible to expedite repairs for the school, which unites the extended community in a way unmatched by most public schools.
Although small in numbers, the impact of this rural school is immeasurable. Evidence has proven the numerous benefits of low student to teacher ratios. Due to Ola’s creative and committed teachers, our students have consistently exceeded state educational standards. They have modeled what it takes for a rural community to be innovative and cutting edge, as seen in our annual science fair exhibitions that demonstrate solar energy, various science and technology solutions, and robot and drone programming. By repairing our school, we will carry on the legacy of previous generations by continuing traditional community events including, The Halloween Parade (50 families), Christmas Program (75-100 ), May Day Program (120), Memorial Program (70 ), Earth Day (45) and Science Fair (75-100). These are estimated numbers but they reflect accurately the community’s devotion to school activities.
While the estimated timeline to implement repairs is approximately six months, it really depends on the generosity of organizations, individuals and the community at large. We would greatly appreciate the opportunity to receive funds from you, which would be used to repair and upgrade the building, so that our students could return to the our historic Ola School as soon as possible. We remain committed to ‘Save Ola School’ with a passion, knowing it is worth the investment for both our current ranching families who live in this beautiful valley, as well as for future generations and the extended neighboring homestead communities.