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At the stroke of midnight tonight, the Vader School District officially fades into the history books.

Though planned for several months, the small Lewis County school district formally ceases to exist the first minute of September, or 12:00:01 a.m. Saturday.

After midnight, bank accounts will be transferred, county records changed and all property transferred to the Castle Rock School District.

"All the paperwork (needed for the transfer) already has been filed with both counties," said Castle Rock Superintendent Rick Wilde. "In all truth it's already been done, but September is the start of the next school year and budget."

The Vader School Board voted to dissolve the k-8 district and close its sole school in March, after three failed levy and bond measures needed to keep the school open and the district financially viable. Students moved to temporary school near Toledo that same month.

Castle Rock's absorption of the entire district was negotiated with state officials and representatives from other neighboring districts. Toledo and Winlock school officials agreed Castle Rock was in the best position to take on Vader's debts and assets. Also, Castle Rock had room for all of the Vader students, though some can opt to attend school in Toledo and Winlock. The district estimates it will have 56 Vader students when school opens Tuesday.

Officials initially estimated the Vader district could bring with it $100,000 in debt, but state officials said Thursday they believe no debt will be passed on to Castle Rock. The state likely will pick up the last $7,000 in Vader costs, said John Molohon, assistant superintendent of the Educational Services District 113.

One expense to the district was buying out Superintendent JoAnn Anshutz's contract. Vader teachers and staff were left unemployed after school ended. But Anshutz's contract guaranteed her $72,000 for the 2007-08 school year — whether the school existed or not.

Anshutz's contract was bought out by the Vader district before the transfer, Wilde said, so she will not be working for Castle Rock during the school year.

Vader's assets, such as land and school buses, are estimated at $400,000, Molohon said. Castle Rock, though, has no plans at this point to sell the school site. Rather, Castle Rock officials are planning for a future including Vader — including possibly opening a school there again once the area grows.

Former Vader School Board members Al Gulliford and Kari Rigsbee are nonvoting members of the Castle Rock School Board this year to give Vader and Ryderwood residents a voice. Later this year the district will redraw its voting ward boundaries to give Vader and Ryderwood residents a voting member on the board.

School officials also plan to begin a "slow demolition" of the condemned Vader school, first salvaging any useable parts, such as light fixtures. The Legislature approved $200,000 to cover demolition costs.

It's possible the interior core of the building — shuttered since March — will remain for unspecified future use. The school's electrical, fire and plumbing systems were deemed unsafe for students and forced the building's closure shortly after the third failed election.

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