North Idaho

Group fighting to save Worley school building

WORLEY, Idaho - The Plummer-Worley School District is worried about asbestos while the Worley Historical Society is worried about demolishing history in a tug-of-war over a school building that's been a part of Worley since the 1930's.

The Worley school building was constructed during the Great Depression and managed to keep its doors open to students for seven decades. For Catherine Morris this isn't just the place she graduated from, it's a place she's fighting to keep alive.

"I feel like it's a really, really important historical building. I really do," Morris, who is the Worley Historical Society president, said.

Worley School Building

The Worley school building was built in 1937. Despite everything it survived, it couldn't withstand deterioration and was shut down in 2009.

"It is such a dangerous building, I can't emphasize that enough," Plummer-Worley School District Superintendent Judi Sharrett said.

It's been years since students walked through the doors; today the building is in disrepair, filled with asbestos and a weak gym roof.

"With a 12 inch snow load or more, which we get here very quickly, we can get that over night, the roof was in high probability of collapsing," Sharrett said.

Around 260 students were moved to Plummer schools, which is about 10 minutes away. It would cost up to $14 Million to fix the building, which the school district said was not cost effective. Plans to demolish the building are now under review. 

However before a wrecking ball hits anything, the newly formed Worley Historical Society wants a chance to preserve it.  Catherine Morris believes the school was built under the New Deal, designed to rebuild the nation during the Great Depression. 

A historian, however, said there are no records to support that. The historical society said they are digging deeper to get the archives to prove that is indeed the case.

In the meanwhile the society continues to look for a solution. One possibility includes buying the building. The superintendent is open to ideas and respects the society's persistence, but said she will always put safety first.