The Imperial Unified School District’s “country” school, which is several miles southwest of Seeley, has been educating kids from that part of the Valley, Ocotillo and from Imperial proper who wanted to attend a “country school” for 101 years. Westside is a lovely, bucolic place that has had special staffs for many decades as it has educated generation after generation of Westside Longhorns.
The board next will have to decide what to do with the Westside facility, according to reports.
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It may appear Westside is dead, but this is a school that has been on life support a few times before and bounced back to not only life but vibrancy. Westside has many fans, including some well-heeled alumni and other supporters, which is evidenced each year by the tremendous turnout and piles of money raised by the school’s annual auction and barbecue.
The school’s longtime principal, Nancy Rood, is confident Westside will be kept open through private donations. The district superintendent, Lisa Tabarez, doesn’t believe that will happen, even with a proposed $1 million donation from Patterson Energy Group, which is building a wind energy project in Ocotillo. The company has said it would donate $50,000 a year in installments during the next 20 years to keep Westside open. District officials, though, think they could save $100,000 a year by closing the school.
We hope, through some miracle, the little country school that could is kept alive, but in a bad economy with school districts dealing annually with more austere budgets, Westside has been on borrowed time for many years.
If this special little country school closes, it will be a sad, sad day in the Imperial Valley’s history.
A special place.
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